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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010 May 21;59(19):582-7.

Violations identified from routine swimming pool inspections--selected states and counties, United States, 2008.


Swimming is the third most popular U.S. sport or exercise activity, with approximately 314 million visits to recreational water venues, including treated venues (e.g., pools), each year. The most frequently reported type of recreational water illness (RWI) outbreak is gastroenteritis, the incidence of which is increasing. During 1997--2006, chlorine- and bromine-susceptible pathogens (e.g., Shigella and norovirus) caused 24 (23%) of 104 treated venue--associated RWI outbreaks of gastroenteritis, indicating lapses in proper operation of pools. Pool inspectors help minimize the risk for RWIs and injuries by enforcing regulations that govern public treated recreational water venues. To assess pool code compliance, CDC analyzed 2008 data from 121,020 routine pool inspections conducted by a convenience sample of 15 state and local agencies. Because pool codes and, therefore, inspection items differed across jurisdictions, reported denominators varied. Of 111,487 inspections, 13,532 (12.1%) resulted in immediate closure because of serious violations (e.g., lack of disinfectant in the water). Of 120,975 inspections, 12,917 (10.7%) identified disinfectant level violations. Although these results likely are not representative of all pools in the United States, they suggest the need for increased public health scrutiny and improved pool operation. The results also demonstrate that pool inspection data can be used as a potential source for surveillance to guide resource allocation and regulatory decision-making. Collecting pool inspection data in a standardized, electronic format can facilitate routine analysis to support efforts to reduce health and safety risks for swimmers.

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