18 NC children have ‘chemical burns’ after visiting splash pad, parents say

North Carolina news

DENTON, N.C. (WGHP) — Eighteen Davidson County children got rashes and had what parents are calling “chemical burns” after a day at a local splash pad.

WGHP has learned what may have caused the water at the Bombay Park Splash Pad to irritate the kids’ skin on June 8.

The Davidson County’s Environmental Health Department did some testing and found the chlorine levels were off the charts, well above their preferred limit of 10 ppm.

The pH levels should be around 7.2-7.8 ppm. At the time of the inspection, it was around 8 ppm.

“Poor things. I know a few went to the ER. Some of them had really bad [burns], like everywhere on their face, everything,” Loeva Mills said.

Her 8-year-old son, Logan, was enjoying a field-trip day to the Bombay Park Splash Pad with his friends from the Wesleyan Child Development Center in Denton.

A staff member at the day care told WGHP 18 kids had burns from the splash pad, and at least two were taken to the hospital the next day for treatment.

The staff member said the kids ranged from kindergarteners to fifth graders.

“Thankfully, my son didn’t have it as bad as some of the other kids,” Mills said.

She shared with WGHP the message she got from day care leaders, telling parents they spoke to poison control and that they should keep an eye on their kids’ rashes.

“[Logan] walks over the water, and a lot of the kids obviously are drinking it, putting their mouths on [the water],” Mills said. “Other kids had rashes everywhere… on their legs, their stomachs, and all the way up their mouths.”

The director of the Davidson County Parks and Recreation Department said earlier in the day, they found out people had been stuffing the drain system with mulch and mud, impacting the filtration system.

The tank of water powering the splash pad was also drained.

County leaders don’t know if that vandalism could be related to the high chlorine and pH levels the health department found in the water.

Pamela Ward owns Lexington Pools with her husband.

They test water samples from pools daily.

“[The rashes] could be from the high chlorine. It must have been extremely high,” she said. “Or if they got in direct contact, like if they had just treated the water and then the kids were in the water, immediately following.”

Ward can’t believe someone may have tampered with the water system.

“You always want to go someplace and feel like you’re going to be safe,” she said.

She, and the Davidson County parents of the kids who were affected, are hoping county leaders get to the bottom of this, soon.

“If someone is messing [with the splash pad], they definitely should cut it out,” Mills said. “That’s one of the only places the kids can go to have fun in the summer.”

The splash pad was shut down for a few days, while crews were fixing the pH and chlorine levels.

Health Department officials told WGHP the water is now up to standard.

The Parks and Recreation Department has now added some security measures, including a more enhanced camera system, to prevent this from happening again.

The vandalism is still under investigation.

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