Pool Paint Fumes Fell a Total of 11

Times Staff Writer

Two painters, ambulance drivers, firefighters and others were rushed to hospitals Friday after they inhaled toxic fumes from paint that the workers were using on a swimming pool at a Yorba Linda home.

The residents of the house called the Orange County Fire Department at about 6 p.m. after they discovered the two workers lying at the bottom of the pool, Fire Department spokeswoman Patti Range said.

A few hours later, not only the two painters, but two ambulance drivers, four firefighters, a Brea police officer and two other people had been overcome by the fumes, Range added.

The owners of the house were evacuated, but no one else in the neighborhood had to leave, she said.

2 Reported Critical

The injured were sent to St. Jude Hospital in Yorba Linda and to Placentia-Linda Community Hospital, Range said. The two workers, Demario Hernandez, 21, and Steve Osborn, 22, were reported in critical condition. The others were treated and released.


Range said the fumes from the paint were so strong that a hazardous-materials unit was sent to the hospital where the firefighters had been taken, because the firefighters’ clothing was reeking of fumes that could endanger others.

She said a total of 30 members of fire and police departments and other agencies were called to investigate. A hazardous materials unit also was sent to try to neutralize the fumes at the pool.

Paint cans at the scene showed that the workers had been using Polyplus Pool Paint, which is 60% perchlorethylene, Range said, a substance that is highly toxic.

The ingredient was listed on the paint can labels, she said, and the instructions advised to “avoid prolonged breathing” when using the paint.

Range said the paint can cause “severe nausea, vomiting and respiratory distress.”

“We are fortunate that the cans were well-labeled and marked,” she said.

Investigators were still analyzing why so many people reacted so strongly to the substance, and how they will get rid of the noxious odors. But she said the weather probably had something to do with their reaction.

“The dampness (in the air) sometimes holds the vapors down,” Range said.