CDC unveils Model Aquatic Health Code

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Washington — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with assistance from the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO®), has published the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC).

The MAHC is a voluntary guidance document based on science and best practices that can help local and state authorities make swimming and other water activities healthier and safer, according to CDC. States and localities can use the MAHC to create or update existing pool codes to reduce risk for outbreaks, drowning, and pool-chemical injuries. The MAHC guidelines address the design, construction, operation, maintenance, policies, and management of public aquatic facilities.

CDC and IAPMO in 2012 signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to eliminate overlap and conflict between the MAHC and IAPMO’s Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa and Hot Tub Code (USPSHTC). Through their collaboration, the agencies also worked to clarify the roles of construction code and environmental health officials, as well as developing training and continuous compliance programs that support the goals of ensuring the environmental health of recreational aquatic facilities.

“CDC is excited to have released the 1st Edition of the Model Aquatic Health Code and appreciate the feedback from all stakeholders throughout the process, which truly helps to make a stronger code, and are committed to working with IAPMO and other code writing organizations to continue to advance aquatic health and safety in this country,” Dr. Michael Beach, chief of CDC’s Waterborne Diseases Prevention Branch.

A variety of federal laws govern aquatic facilities, such as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which governs the construction of drain covers and entrapment systems to prevent body and hair entrapment by drain suction. Many states and localities also have their own environmental health codes governing the construction and/or operation of swimming pools and spas. Some provisions of these different codes may conflict with each other, creating confusion among pool and spa designers, equipment manufacturers, regulators, pool owners and builders as to who holds jurisdiction.

The MAHC will serve as a model for state and local environmental health agencies to transform their varied pool regulations into a set of nationally consistent standards that promote the health and safety of the swimming public.

For more information on the MAHC, visit For more information on IAPMO and/or the USPSHTC, visit

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