Safe Storage and Handling of Swimming Pool Chemicals Page: 1 of 7
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Office of Solid Waste
and Emergency Response
Safe Storage and Handling of
Swimming Pool Chemicals
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing this Alert as part of its ongoing effort to
protect human health and the environment by preventing chemical accidents. We are striving to
learn the causes and contributing factors associated with chemical accidents and to prevent their
recurrence. Major chemical accidents cannot be prevented solely through regulatory
requirements. Rather, understanding the fundamental root causes, widely disseminating the
lessons learned, and integrating these lessons learned into safe operations are also required. EPA
publishes Alerts to increase awareness of possible hazards. It is important that facilities, State
Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs), Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs),
emergency responders, and others review this information and take appropriate steps to
minimize risk. This document does not substitute for EPA's regulations, nor is it a regulation
itself. It cannot and does not impose legally binding requirements on EPA, states, or the
regulated community, and the measures it describes may not apply to a particular situation based
upon the circumstances. This guidance does not represent final agency action and may change
in the future, as appropriate.
Pool chemicals may become a hazard when
they become wetted by a small quantity of
water or when they are improperly mixed,
such as with other chemicals or reactive
materials. Although the potential hazards
of swimming pool water treatment and
maintenance chemicals, also referred to as
"pool chemicals," have been recognized for
some time, news media reports over the
last five years still show a significant
number of fires, toxic vapor releases, and
personnel injuries in which pool chemicals
were a factor (See Table 1).
A number of the pool chemicals, especially
those exhibiting oxidation properties, can
potentially be highly reactive and capable
of generating high temperatures, as well as
releasing toxic vapors if improperly
handled or stored. Reactivity may be
triggered by water wetting the chemical, or
by the inadvertent mixing of a pool
chemical with an incompatible material.
Some pool chemicals are self-reactive over
time, even without moisture addition or
mixing with other materials. The products
of this decomposition may include chlorine
gas which may cause the corrosion of
piping and other metal equipment in poorly
ventilated areas. These chemicals are
packaged in "breathable" containers to
avoid pressure buildup while in storage.
A partial listing of pool chemicals includes
chlorinated isocyanurates, lithium
hypochlorite, sodium bicarbonate,
potassium monopersulfate, hydrogen
peroxide, sodium hypochlorite, calcium
hypochlorite, and certain ammonium,
brominated, copper and silver compounds,
and muriatic acid. Pool chemicals involved
in fire or toxic vapor release are likely to
include those that add chlorine or a chlorine
ion to the pool water for bacterial control.
Chemicals that release chlorine are among
the group of chemicals that are classified as
oxidizers. These pool oxidizer chemicals
include calcium hypochlorite, sodium
hypochlorite, and chlorinated
isocyanurates. Other pool chemicals are
used to control the growth of algae or
fungus, to adjust the acidity or alkalinity
(pH control), and to clarify pool water.
Large, nonresidential pools may use
chlorine stored as a liquid under pressure in
metal containers. The Chlorine Institute,
Inc. and the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) provide
guidance on the operation of pressurized
chlorine systems (see Information
Resources section of this Alert).
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United States. Environmental Protection Agency. Safe Storage and Handling of Swimming Pool Chemicals, report, Date Unknown; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc948917/m1/1/: accessed December 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.