CDC Releases First Swimming Pool Health Code Module
First of 12 modules covers operator training to avoid health and safety violations
The board of directors for the National Swimming Pool Foundation voted last week to endorse the first module of the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC), entitled “Operator Training.” The Model Aquatic Health Code is being created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and dozens of volunteers. This standard is the first public domain, scientifically based standard that is free for all jurisdictions. “Operator Training,” the first of 12 modules, was issued April 8. A second module, “Ventilation/Indoor Air Quality,” was released for public comment on April 13. Another six modules are in final review and being formatted.
“When the foremost aquatic education and research foundation stands behind this standard, it’s a sign that the Model Aquatic Health Code is the right direction to lead us into the future,” said Michael Beach, Ph.D., associate director for healthy water in the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases.
“Leaders from industry, academia and government collaborated to create a standard that is based on the best available science,” said Doug Sackett, director of the MAHC Steering Committee. State and many county health departments update their pool and spa health codes periodically. This is an expensive and time-consuming process. Often an individual state does not have access to experts from around the country. “The Model Aquatic Health Code saves local resources, improves standards and provides for consistency around the country, so states will not have to reinvent the wheel to update their codes,” Sackett added.
“Industry, government and academia are best served by one code that is free to all and science based,” said Tracynda Davis, M.P.H., director of environmental health programs at the National Swimming Pool Foundation and a representative of the National Environmental Health Assn. to the MAHC Steering Committee. “The Model Aquatic Health Code includes the reasoning and references that support the code requirements.”
It is significant that the “Operator Training” module is the first Model Aquatic Health Code module to be released. Currently, only 23 states have adopted requirements that public pool operators complete a minimum two-day training program. Minimum training helps operators prevent violations of health codes. “If we are serious about reducing drowning, illness and injuries, it is time for all states to implement minimum training requirements for people who operate public pools,” Davis said.
There is a poor track record for complying with public health codes, according to a recent study by the CDC. Pool inspection data from 15 jurisdictions across the United States indicated that 12.1% of inspections resulted in immediate closure because of the seriousness of identified violations; violations regarding the following issues are frequently identified: free chlorine level (10.7% of inspections), pH level (8.9%), other water chemistry (12.5%), filtration/recirculation system (35.9%), water test kit (3.3%), record keeping (10.9%) and licensure (2.7%).