What to know about chemical leaks at your community pool

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After a chemical leak at a community pool in Atascocita prompted a shelter-in-place for residents along Drew Forest and Lago Forest, toxicologist Noreen Khan-Mayberry explains the dangers of a leak.

RELATED: Shelter-in-place lifted after chemical leak repaired at pool in Atascocita

She told ABC13 Eyewitness News that exposure to muriatic acid can cause breathing problems and burning, especially for asthmatics.

Khan-Mayberry says that in small amounts, muriatic acid is fine. The simple term for the chemical is hydrochloric acid and it performs like chlorine, but it's cheaper and more popular.

"The danger from muriatic acid, if it comes out as an acid cloud, is definitely to the respiratory system and to the mucus, which is the lining for your cells and your upper and lower airways," Khan-Mayberry said. "This is basically where I have the most concern in terms of toxic effects. At 3 PPM, you can actually safely be exposed in the air without any kind of hazard effects to be expected short term or long term."

The PPM that Dr. Khan-Mayberry referred to means parts per million. Experts have to test the air quality to determine exactly what that number is. If it's too high, that's when trouble can come.

Dr. Khan-Mayberry says if you ever find yourself near a chemical leak, you should stay inside until an all-clear is given and turn off the air conditioning so that you won't recirculate air inside of your home.
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