Carbon Monoxide Causes One Death, 13 Injuries Around Michigan Indoor Swimming Pool
Apparently they were overcome by toxic fumes and found by a hotel employee who called 911
April 3, 2017
In Niles Michigan, Quality Inn employees discovered one 1 child dead, 13 people unconscious and in critical condition. The incident is being blamed on a carbon monoxide accident at hotel swimming pool. In a chemical reaction, Chlorine can be converted into carbon monoxide, chemists say. A broken swimming pool heater can cause such a reaction, in a situation where a pool is fully enclosed.
ABC News is reporting that one child is dead and six other children are hospitalized for apparent carbon-monoxide poisoning after they were found unconscious inside and around the indoor-pool area of a Michigan hotel on Saturday.
The carbon-monoxide leak was caused by a broken pool heater, according to the Niles Police Department.
Fire Department Capt. Don Wise in Niles, Michigan, told reporters that staff at the local Quality Inn and Suites found six children laying on the pool deck unresponsive and unconscious on Saturday. The staff members immediately opened the doors to the indoor-pool area and called 911, he said.
Wise said it's unclear how long the children, who range in age from about 12 to 14, were unconscious before they were found.
First responders arrived on scene and evacuated the children, who were taken to area hospitals.
"When we first went in with our [air] monitors, the monitors went off," Wise said. "All the responders took a little bit more risk, but we had to get those kids out of there and into fresh air for their best chance at survival."
First responders then went through each floor of the hotel to evacuate any remaining visitors and staff, according to the Niles Police Department.
During the room-to-room evacuation, a family member of the children alerted first responders to a seventh child in one of the first floor rooms who wasn't breathing. She had just come from the pool area where she had been with the other six children. Responding officers were able to get the girl to respond to them and she was able to walk outside to an ambulance, police said.
Quality Inn confirmed to ABC News that the entire hotel was evacuated.
According to police, the hotel had approximately 24 rooms booked at the time of the incident and all guests and staff were evacuated from the building. The hotel has been closed for occupancy while the investigation continues, police said.
A total of 15 people were transported from the scene to two area hospitals, including six adults and nine children.
One of the children was dead on arrival at Lakeland Hospital in Niles, hospital spokesperson told ABC News. Police have identified the child as 13-year-old Bryan Douglas Watts.
Lakeland Hospital in Niles is treating a hotel employee housekeeper. Two Niles Police Department officers and two Berrien County deputies have been released, the hospital spokesperson told ABC News.
Memorial Hospital of South Bend in Indiana, some 10 miles from the hotel in the southern Michigan city of Niles, is currently treating nine patients -- eight children and one adult. Two of the children are in serious condition and five are listed as fair. One child has been treated and released, a hospital spokesperson told ABC News.
The adult patient at Memorial Hospital of South Bend has been released. The patient is a police officer who helped rescue the unconscious children, the hospital spokesperson said.
As a common disinfectant, elemental chlorine and chlorine-generating compounds are used more directly in swimming pools to keep them clean and sanitary. Elemental chlorine at high concentrations is extremely dangerous and poisonous for all living organisms, and was used in World War I as the first gaseous chemical warfare agent.
Levels of bacteria and viruses in swimming pool water must be kept low to prevent the spread of diseases and pathogens. Bacteria, algae and insect larvae can enter the pool if water is not properly sanitized. Pumps, mechanical sand filters, and disinfectants are often used to sanitise the water.
Chemical disinfectants, such as chlorine (usually as a hypochlorite salt, such as calcium hypochlorite) and bromine, are commonly used to kill pathogens. If not properly maintained, chemical sanitation can produce high levels of disinfection byproducts. Sanitized swimming pool water can theoretically appear green if a certain amount of iron salts or copper chloride are present in the water.
Acesulfame potassium has been used to estimate how much urine is discharged by swimmers into a pool. In a Canadian study it was estimated that swimmers had released 75 litres of urine into a large pool that had about 830,000 litres of water and was a third of the size of an olympic pool. Hot tubs were found to have higher readings of the marker. While urine itself is sterile, its degradation products may lead to asthma.
April 3, 2017 To the Editor of the Santa Monica Observer: The April 1 accident in which one child died and 13 people were injured by carbon monoxide at the Quality Inn in Niles, Michigan is truly tragic and should be thoroughly investigated. Your April 1 article reports the carbon monoxide leak was caused by a broken pool heater, which is quite feasible. Based on the facts presented, what is not feasible is the involvement of chlorine in this horrific accident. The article states, “In a chemical
reaction, Chlorine can be converted into carbon monoxide, chemists say.” Chemistry simply does not work that way. Chlorine is one of nature’s 100+ chemical elements and carbon and oxygen are two other distinct chemical elements. One atom of carbo of carbon and one atom of oxygen make up the chemical compound carbon m carbon monoxide. There is no chlorine in carbon monoxide, and chlorine chlorine cannot be converted into carbon monoxide. No chemist would sa would say that. Period. We expect a full correction in your next edition.
Yours truly, Judith Nordgren Managing Director Chlorine Chemistry Division American Chemistry Council