The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the first national Model Aquatic Health Code, guidelines that public pool operators can follow to help keep swimmers healthy and safe and that state and local health departments can use when they create or update public pool regulations. The code provides tips on safe operation of public aquatic facilities, including design and construction, water filtration and disinfection, safety, ventilation and air quality and staff training.
Americans make more than 300 million visits to pools each year. The number of pool-associated outbreaks—mostly of diarrhea—has significantly increased during the past 20 years. In 2009-2010, the last year for which data were available, outbreaks involving 57 pools sickened more than 1,000 people and sent 40 swimmers to the hospital. Injuries caused by improperly used pool chemicals led to about 5,000 emergency department visits in 2012 alone. On average, nearly 4,000 swimmers drown each year; children younger than 5 years old are the most frequent victims.
More than two-thirds of local health departments inspect public pools each year. Studies of data from more than 120,000 pool inspections found that 1 in 8 public pools were closed immediately because of health and safety issues. The Model Aquatic Health Code is designed to provide a blueprint for health departments and public pool owners and operators to follow to help decrease illnesses and injuries and provide a healthy and safe environment for swimmers.
The Model Aquatic Health Code was published today on CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/mahc.
All swimming pool codes and legislation are developed at the state or local level, leading to great variability in standards and requiring each locality to devote time and resources to regularly updating pool codes. A collaboration among CDC, state and local public health departments, the aquatics sector, and academic experts, the MAHC was developed to provide the most up-to-date guidance on safely building and operating pools. CDC developed the MAHC 1st Edition after work with more than 150 experts and review of more than 4,400 public comments.
For more information about recreational water illnesses and healthy swimming, go to www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming.