Public Pools Fail: CDC Report Claims 80 Percent Of Public Pools Cannot Pass Health Inspections

A new report released by the Network for Aquatic Facility Inspection and Surveillance group, created by the CDC, may cause people to question their decision to go to public pools as a way to beat the heat as the summer months draw closer.

The CDC report released on Thursday found that out of 84,187 routine inspections of public pools, 80 percent of the pools had at least one violation. It was also discovered that at least one out of every eight pools inspected was forced to be closed due to severe violations of safety and health. During the public pool inspections, the number of violations ranged from no violations to 21 violations. The most common violation dealt with an improper pH balance. This occurred at 15 percent of the pools tested. Issues of problems with safety equipment accounted for 13 percent of violations, followed closely by 12 percent of violations stemming from problems with the concentration of various chemicals used in public pools.

“Currently, only 68% of U.S. local public health agencies regulate, inspect, or license public aquatic facilities.”

The pools that were inspected and included in the report are located in Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas. These five states were chosen for the study because these states combine for approximately 40 percent of the public pools and water play facilities in the United States.

The Network for Aquatic Facility Inspection and Surveillance was established by the CDC in 2013. Their mission is to ensure that public pools in the United States are maintained in such a way that the safety and health of the public are not put at risk.

From 1978 to the inception of the Network for Aquatic Facility Inspection and Surveillance in 2013, 650 outbreaks were reported to the CDC where the outbreak origin was a public pool. The largest outbreak occurred in 2007 at an Ohio indoor water park. Chemicals called chloramines were inadvertently created due to the mixing of sweat, urine, and chlorine at the Ohio facility. As a result, the local health care facilities were overrun by nearly 700 cases of people complaining of problems with their eyes and with their breathing.

The authors of the CDC report make sure to state that the data collected from the inspections in Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas can’t be extrapolated to be used to determine the safety of the pools in the other states. Even though the study’s authors caution restraint, they also state “the findings of this report underscore the need to improve the operation and maintenance of U.S. public aquatic facilities to prevent illness and injury.”

What precautions can be taken by people going to pools to put their minds at ease? The CDC suggests that if you plan on going to public water facilities, you should go to a hardware or pool supply store to purchase test strips for determining the pH level of the water and other chemical concentrations. The pH level of a properly maintained pool should have a range of 7.2 to 7.8. The proper concentration of chlorine should be at least one part per million in pools and three parts per million in hot tubs. The concentration of bromine should be three parts per million in pools and four parts per million in hot tubs.

Will the CDC report on the health and safety violations of public pools cause you to avoid swimming in them this summer?

[Image Via AP Photo/David Goldman, File]