Michigan State Swim Team Suffers Chemical Burns

Chemicals in a pool caused dry skin, redness, and irritation—and later, hair loss and skin burns.

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Unsafe levels of chemicals in a Michigan State pool caused dry skin, redness, and irritation—and later, hair loss and skin burns—for members of the school's men's and women's swimming and diving teams. "I had a dry throat, I didn't have hair on my arms anymore, our eyebrows turned really blond," one swimmer described to the State News. "And I still had really dry skin that (made it) about unbearable to sleep."

The swimmers quickly noticed something wrong after the first day of practice—and mentioned it to the coaching staff—still, the students were told to return to practice for two more days. "They kept saying they understood, they knew what was going on, but they didn't really know what was going on in the pool." The coaching staff says the problems were due to construction and maintenance, and that they were never told it was unsafe to swim in the pool. "From one day to the next, at least atmospherically, it got better, so we just assumed the water was better," Coach Matt Gianiodis told the State News. "Once we found out about (the unsafe levels), we got them out."

A handful of athletes failed to show up for the third day altogether, while others felt intimidated to return. "I don't want to miss a day of training, but at the same time, I didn't want to get in the pool. It felt like I was being forced, I guess."