Public Pools, Hot Tubs Rife With Health and Safety Violations, CDC Finds

What you can do to check if your pool is safe.

ByABC News
May 19, 2016, 2:59 PM

— -- As the weather warms and Memorial Day looms, children and adults alike will soon be flocking to swimming pools. But just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, a new report from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention is warning water-lovers to be careful before jumping into the deep end.

The CDC looked at inspection data from the five states with the most public pools and hot tubs, which included 48,632 public aquatic venues, that were inspected in 2013.

The report revealed that 80 percent of public aquatic venues had at least one violation and one in eight were closed after the inspection due to serious health and safety violations. The most common violations involved improper pH (15 percent), which is a measure of the water's acidity; safety equipment (13 percent); and disinfectant concentration (12 percent).

“No one should get sick or hurt when visiting a public pool, hot tub, or water playground,” Dr. Beth Bell, director of CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases said in a statement today. “That’s why public health and aquatics professionals work together to improve the operation and maintenance of these public places so people will be healthy and safe when they swim.”

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told ABC News the findings emphasize how people need to be alert and aware of their surroundings when they go to a public pool.

"You take for granted that you're safe when you go to these facilities," said Glatter, who was not involved in the new CDC report. He said these lapses in safety can result in infections and increases in communicable diseases.

There are basic steps people can take when visiting the pool to diminish the risk of getting sick. While the CDC advises using test strips, Glatter said people can also ask a lifeguard or manager about maintenance.

"I think [you should] look around the cleanliness of the pool," Glatter said. "If can you see the bottom when you [get to] the deep end," it's a sign that it's clean.

The CDC released the Model Aquatic Health Code this year to give guidance to local and state authorities that oversee public aquatic spaces.