By Sarah Westergren, Staff Writer
// Students swapped their PE jerseys for swimsuits and sunscreen- and perhaps a little too much chlorine, on Tuesday, May 9.
A dozen physical education students visited Acalanes nurse Dvora Citron complaining of eye pain. The complaints, which began that morning, emerged as a result of the pool’s imbalanced chlorine levels. 229 kids did not swim that day after these complaints.
“I started feeling the affects of the chlorine right after I got out of the pool,” freshman Alex Gilberd said. “I knew it was probably the chlorine that was causing this because I had other people in the previous period warn me that the chlorine levels were high.”
Traditionally, the Contra Costa Health Services suggests 2.5-3.5 parts per million (ppm) of chlorine for commercial pool usage. After more than 12 accounts of pain and swelling in the eyes, physical education teachers cancelled the day’s swim lesson to prevent further injury among its students. Varsity swim practice was relocated as well.
“The chlorine had made my vision very blurry and foggy. Along with that, I felt weak and kept sneezing and sniffling for the rest of the day,” Gilberd said.
Gilberd remained at school, completing an English presentation with eyes half closed. Other students like freshman Rachel Dadiomov were forced to leave school after intense vision problems. Dadiomov was one of three to leave campus that day as a result of the pool’s high chlorine levels.
“We were all doing laps in the pool, and all of ours eyes started to burn,” Dadiomov said. “I went home because my eyes weren’t able to focus, and I was having a hard time seeing the board in class.”
Many students turned to Citron to address the chlorine’s numerous side effects.
“I just flushed their eyes out with a purified water solution that I have available and it seemed to provide really good relief, enough that almost all of them were able to stay at school,” Citron said.
Physical education teachers resumed their scheduled swim unit the following day, after maintenance had addressed the imbalance. Surprisingly, many students returned to school without goggles to protect themselves.
“I don’t think that I will wear goggles since people now know to keep a close eye on the chlorine levels. If it does happen again though, I will just stop swimming and tell the PE teacher,” freshman Megan McCreary said.
Check back for updates on this developing story.