COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The board of directors for the leading pool/spa/education and research organization, non-profit 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 world's chief public health organization, 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. The first of twelve modules entitled "Operator Training" was issued on April 8, 2011. A second module on "Ventilation/Indoor Air Quality" was released for public comment on April 13, 2011. Another half dozen modules are in final review and being formatted. The final MAHC will consist of twelve main modules.
"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 Model Aquatic Health Code 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 will 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," he added.
"The release of the first modules that will make up the complete national Model Aquatic Health Code from the CDC is a seminal moment," commented Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., and CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation. "The National Swimming Pool Foundation endorses the concept and process of the Model Aquatic Health Code and urges every health department and every association to adopt the first module, 'Operator Training,' without exception."
"Industry, government and academia are best served by one code that is free to all and science based," explained Tracynda Davis, M.P.H., Director of Environmental Health Programs at the National Swimming Pool Foundation and a representative of the National Environmental Health Association to the Model Aquatic Health Code 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. Studies cited in the Model Aquatic Health Code reinforce the obvious. 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 requirement for people who operate public pools," reinforced Davis.
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%). [CDC. Violations identified from routine swimming pool inspections – selected states and counties, United States, 2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010;59(19):582-587]
The first industry standard was issued in 1958. In the subsequent 53 years, no two states have the same code. Many counties have created codes because the state codes were perceived as inadequate. As a result, there is extraordinary variability. What was required in one jurisdiction may be illegal in another. When national laws are enacted, like the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act or new studies or data is published, each state and county must evaluate their code and consider what changes make sense based on the new federal law or studies. Having so many codes places an exceptional financial burden on industry and government. "Wasting precious tax dollars is unacceptable," said Dr. Lachocki. "Diversity in codes does not serve the public, government officials, pool builders, engineering and architectural firms, operators and service companies. It creates confusion. More codes are bad, when you can have one good code," he added.
"Industry members have to become expert in a variety of codes in each jurisdiction they ply their trade. Government entities must develop training and enforcement strategies for each jurisdiction. It was clear that the historic approach could be improved upon," Mr. Sackett further explained. "The CDC has taken a leadership role in creating what is now a historic moment for the pool, spa, and environmental health field. Health department resources are stretched pretty thin; having the Model Aquatic Health Code available for adoption can save valuable resources. If a local jurisdiction has compelling science to support changes, that science can be best used by influencing ONE model code that is not limited to a single jurisdiction," he concluded.
Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.
Thomas Lachocki, Ph.D
SOURCE National Swimming Pool Foundation