There aren't too many obvious ways to learn if a pool's pH balance is out of whack. Having an entire water polo team lose their body hair and leave the pool with bleached hair on their head is a pretty good indicator.
Those terrifying body reactions occurred in Berkley, Calif. in the final days of September, where the Berkley High (Berkley, Calif.) water polo team found itself with a sudden lack of body hair. As first reported by local news outlet Berkleyside, Berkley High's pool developed a pH balance nearly 10 times the healthy limit, testing at a rate of 8.5 percent. That left water polo players and swimmers with irritated eyes, bleached blond hair (whether they wanted it or not) and the loss of body hair.
According to Berkleyside, the dramatic change was the result of a defective CO2 tank. The school district confirmed the issue in a letter to parents. The school district has ordered a new CO2 tank to fix the problem, but in the meantime the pool has been closed to safeguard the students who use it.
"If those statements are true, it does raise concern," Tracy Hollander, president of the Berkeley PTA Council, told the Daily Californian, which has also covered the story. "It speaks to student safety. We need to help ensure that students are safe, whether they are walking down a hall or in a pool."
While the new tank should fix the ongoing problems at the Berkley school, there is no guarantee that the problem won't strike again. Both the Californian and Berkleyside reported that the pool has twice been closed before for similar health issues.
"We didn’t want the pool closed, we don’t want to make a political issue out of it," an unnamed Berkley High parent told Berkleyside. "We want a safe and healthy environment for our children.
"We didn’t want the school administration to wait until there was a crisis to deal with this issue."