Dozens of swimmers sickened by chemicals floating in toxic ‘gas cloud’ over California pool 

At least 35 people fell sick after chemicals formed a toxic cloud above a San Jose pool Thursday – sending several to the hospital.

Muriatic acid and chlorine added to the Shadow Brook Swim Club pool created a poisonous gas that suddenly made children and adults swimming and sunning at the pool feel nauseous and struggle to breath.

But if they had not been treated, the gas could have proven deadly for the swimmers.

The victims had to be decontaminated and sent to nine area hospitals while hazmat-suited firefighters closed down the pool and worked to contain the gasses.

Fumes from a dangerous combination of two pool chemicals sickened swimmers in San Jose, California. Firefighters and 10 firefighters had to decontaminate and transport the victims 

An employee at the pool unintentionally mixed chlorine used to sanitize the water with muriatic acid, a chemical used to whiten and brighten the concrete structure of the pool.

By noon, the pair of powerful substances had reacted in the water, forming a yellow cloud over the pool, Fox 2 KTVU reported. 

Lifeguard Lindsay Tarasco, 17, told the news station: ‘I smelled something, so I took a deep breath in. Bad mistake. I realized there was definitely something poisonous in the air.’

What followed was ‘chaos,’ she said.  

Some people merely felt nauseous, but a number of the pool-goers suddenly found themselves short of breath. Several even vomited. 

Parents and lifeguards ushered children – some of whom were as young as six – from the pool and called 9-1-1. 

‘The kids were definitely freaked out. A couple of them were sick, everyone was coughing, couldn’t breathe,’ Tarasco told the news station. 

The victims were given white hazmat suits after emergency responders hosed them down 

The victims were given white hazmat suits after emergency responders hosed them down 

In 10 ambulances, the victims were sent to nine area hospitals.

In 10 ambulances, the victims were sent to nine area hospitals.

Shortly thereafter, 10 ambulances and firefighters arrived on the scene. 

They hosed down the victims with water, then loaded 35 people into the emergency vehicles.  

‘That combination of chemicals can release a gas cloud that can cause what’s called secondary drowning. The lungs start swelling up with its own fluid, the fluid blocks the airwaves and you drown in your own fluids,’ San Jose Fire Department public information officer Captain Mitch Matlow told Fox 2. 

Between 2002 and 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 28,000 people sustained pool chemical-related ‘injuries and illnesses.’ 

When they are too concentrated or combined – as was the case yesterday – they can wreak havoc on the lungs. 

The gases released by chlorine and muriatic acid can damage the lining of the lungs. 

If exposure continues long enough, fluid can start to fill up the tiny air sacs inside the lungs. 

For the victims of the San Jose Pool hazmat incident, ‘long term, those patients could end up on ventilators and be attached to a breathing machine for quite some time until their lungs heal enough to breathe on their own,’ said Captain Matlow.