COPD Sufferer Exposed to Chlorine Fumes...Scared!!!

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I was diagnosed with COPD (Emphesema) about 3 1/2 years ago and use Spiriva daily. (I'm 65 years old) So far I have been maintaining things pretty well and do get short of breath when I exert myself a little too much. I take care of our backyard swimming pool and it has been extremely hot where I live for some time - 90 degree temps with feel like temps in the triple digits sometimes. I am very sensitive to fragrances, chemicals, pollution, yard pesticides etc. so I never use these things. But having a pool for 25 years means I have to use chlorine to maintain it. I have never had a problem as this is all outdoors. But today as I went to our shed where we keep our 3" chlorine tablets and opened the lid I was suddenly overcome by a very strong chlorine odor - the fumes just engulfed me immediately for a few seconds. This has never really happened in the past - I would just quickly grab one of the individually wrapped tablets, close the container immediately and put the tablet in the floater (only had noticed just a brief whiff of the chlorine while doing this in the past). Then as always I would thoroughly wash my hands. I don't know if it was the extreme heat and the container being in the hot shed but when I opened that lid I felt an instant rush of chlorine fumes in my nose and mouth. So far I haven't noticed anything that seems worrisome (this happened just about an hour ago) just a little burning in my eyes. With my COPD/lung problems I was wondering if I should get myself to an emergency room right away or just watch and see for now? So far there are no headaches or nausea or any coughing. Should I use my Ventolin HFA inhaler as a precaution? I did thoroughly wash my face afterwards and changed out of the clothes I was wearing at the time. Or should I just call my Pulmonary doctor's office and ask their advice? If I can get any suggestions or advice on this site I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

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  • Posted


    If you feel that bad then go see a Dr. As for me I'd wait a bit if my breathing had only just received an unexpected shock. You may have experienced a bad period, but if it passed, then I'd mark it up to experience and be more careful moving forward.

    Perhaps another alternative could be to ask another person for their assistance. A friend or family member could render some help if they get invited to enjoy your pool as well.

    Most everyone that post here has COPD. Some are medically worse off than others. Few among us would open a container of strong chemicals in an enclosed space. I'm very careful about soaps and cleaning fluids in my own home. I've at times set up a fan to improve ventilation when using glass or other fluid cleaners. I'd say to use good common sense and put your health 1st and chores/task will be safer to accomplish.

    Best of Luck

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    • Posted

      I definitely should have known better as I already am so sensitive around chemicals, fragrances and scents or smells of most any kind. I use all "Free and Clear" cleaning and laundry products in my home, no candles or air fresheners and all of my personal care products are fragrance free, dermatology tested and for sensitive skin. So I really feel quite stupid for opening that container of chlorine tablets. The shed where these tablets are stored is a semi-enclosed shed and has adequate ventilation but I think the intense heat we've experienced may have had a factor in the fumes rushing out so quickly when I opened it. Live and learn - from now on I will let others who don't suffer the respiratory and lung problems like I do take care of these tasks. Thanks for the reply.

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    • Posted

      Hi JennieCarol,

      On reading your post, I just had a thought about your predicament. On the container which holds the tablets, does it give any information about breathing and what you should do, if affected.

      If it says go straight to the emergency room, that is what I would do, under the circumstances of having COPD together with those rules.

      Another thought I had, would be to research products Online and find out if there is an alternative to this product, for cleaning the pool. Something less harsh.

      I do hope you are ok now, and had no ill effects after a little relaxation.

      Good Luck

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  • Posted

    If you have a pulmonologist, call them. They know your case specifically. We do not. But your exposure was brief. The worst long-term effect might be permanent damage to your olfactory sense.

    Check online to see if it's okay with the chlorine manufacturer to keep that stuff in a shed where temps may already be hitting 115-130F. Even with a bit of ventolation, sheds get almost as hot as cars. Might have to move that container as you don't want anyone else hurt, either.

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