CDC Aims to Prevent Recreational Water Illnesses
About one out of eight public pool inspections conducted in 13 states in 2008 resulted in pools being closed immediately due to serious code violations, according to a report released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report found that, overall, inspections of child care facility pools had the highest percentage of immediate closures (17.2 percent), followed by inspections of hotel/motel pools (15.3 percent), and apartment/condo pools (12.4 percent). Inspections of kiddie/wading pools (13.5 percent) and interactive fountains (12.6 percent) had the highest percentage of disinfectant violations. Improper disinfectant and pH levels in the water can result in transmission of germs, such as Shigella and norovirus, which cause gastroenteritis.
Entitled “Violations Identified from Routine Swimming Pool Inspections—Selected States and Counties, United States, 2008,” the report is available in the May issue of CDC′s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
To assess pool code compliance, researchers analyzed data from 121,020 routine pool inspections conducted by a convenience sample of 15 jurisdictions across 13 states. Because pool codes and inspection items differed across jurisdictions, reported denominators varied. Of 111,487 inspections, 13,532 (12.1 percent) identified serious violations that threatened public health and resulted in immediate pool closure.
Although public health professionals regularly inspect public pool facilities to make sure that steps are taken to promote healthy and safe swimming, these inspections are only one part of the solution to prevent illnesses linked to recreational water.
“Pool inspections are vital to helping state and local government pool programs keep swimmers healthy and safe, but pool inspectors can′t be at every pool every day,” said Michelle Hlaysa, chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. “It′s important for people to play an active role in protecting their own health when they swim. By working together, we can decrease the risk of illness and make sure swimming is not only fun, but healthy too.”
To help ensure healthy swimming each time, CDC encourages swimmers to take action by following the Triple A′s of Healthy Swimming: Awareness, Action, and Advocacy. Ask the pool operator about chlorine and pH levels and the latest pool inspection score. The pH is probably the most important factor in swimming pool water and should be tested and adjusted on a weekly basis. Measuring the pH level is a way to assess the relative acidity or alkalinity of the pool water.
For more information on healthy swimming, visit www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming.
For general information about healthy swimming, please visit your state′s website at www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/resources/states/ or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency′s beaches website at www.epa.gov/beaches.