We’re into the dead heat of summer, and pools are seeing more use as people seek ways to cool off. With the release of 2016 Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is taking steps to ensure the public is safe in those pools.
While a portion of the voluntary code deals with supervision of public swimming spaces and managing risk at a swimming pool, updates in the second edition of the MAHC also target water quality and disinfection concerns.
According to an MAHC fact sheet, one in eight pools is closed after a routine inspection for health or safety issues. Additionally, pool chemicals resulted in almost 5,000 emergency room visits in 2012. And in the early 1990s, there were 12 recreational water illness outbreaks per year. That rate climbed to 41 per year in the late 2000s. Admittedly, these rates are low given the volume of people swimming each year—the CDC estimates that at 300 million people—but it is good the center is seeking ways to protect us in public waters.
Sometimes we take for granted the cleanliness and safety of our pools. One look at the public swimming problems off the coast of Rio de Janeiro provides perspective. Athletes were told to keep their mouths closed when competing in water events for the Olympics starting in just one week.
The CDC worked with the Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code to establish the universal, voluntary standards in the MAHC, and took many of the council’s suggestions to heart. The center also solicited the development of poolside test methods to further expand its safety parameters for chemical use in pools.
While complete sanitation may be over the top, it is reassuring to know the CDC does not want is recommendation to reduce contraction of illness in a swimming pool to "keep your mouth closed."
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