HealthDay News — Serious health and safety violations force the closure of thousands of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds every year, according to research published in the May 20 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
For the report, CDC researchers collected 2013 inspection data from Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas, which combined represent nearly 40% of the nation’s public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds. The data covered 84,187 routine inspections of 48,632 public places where people swim in treated water.
Two-thirds of the inspections (66.4%) involved public pools, and 11.8% resulted in immediate closure due to health or safety violations. Pool facilities were cited most often for improper pH (14.9%), lack of proper safety equipment (12.7%), and inadequate disinfectant levels (11.9%). About one-quarter of the inspections (24.3%) were for public hot tubs or spas, and 15.1% resulted in immediate closure. Most contamination of public pools and hot tubs results from people swimming while suffering from diarrhea, Michael Beach, PhD, the CDC’s associate director for healthy water, told HealthDay.
One-quarter of treated pool diarrhea outbreaks are associated with bacteria like Shigella, Campylobacter, and Escherichia coli that ought to have been eliminated by pool disinfectants, Beach said. The other three-quarters of pool diarrheal outbreaks are related to cryptosporidiosis, a disease caused by a parasite that is “resistant or very tolerant to chlorine, so it kind of evades that main barrier we have in pools,” Beach said. The CDC’s new Model Aquatic Health Code recommends that public pools install secondary disinfection systems to fend off the Cryptosporidium parasite.