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What Do CSTE Members Need To Know about CDC’s Updated Pool Code Guidance?

Posted By Michael Beach and Jasen Kunz, Friday, September 16, 2016
Updated: Friday, September 16, 2016
In July, CDC released the 2016 Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC, 2nd Edition). Creation of the MAHC was initiated as a result of a 2004 CSTE position statement to reduce outbreaks and injuries at public pools. This second edition of the MAHC includes important updates to the first edition released in 2014.

Part of a CDC infographic outlining the benefits of swimming, health hazards at pools, and how MAHC can help. Access the full infographic and other materials.

The MAHC offers guidance that can be voluntarily adopted by state and local jurisdictions to minimize the risk for illness and injury at public aquatic facilities (for example, at apartment complexes, hotels, and waterparks) through facility design, construction, operation, maintenance, and management.

Reflecting input from state and local public health colleagues, aquatics professionals, and other stakeholders, the MAHC is being updated every 2 years to ensure that its recommendations remain current with the latest scientific data and aquatics sector innovations. The MAHC offers science-based guidance that government agencies and the aquatic sector can use to reduce risk for outbreaks, drowning, and chemical injuries at public pools and hot tubs/spas.

3 Things CSTE Members Should Know About the Updated MAHC & Supplemental Materials
  • CSTE was instrumental in getting the MAHC started, and you’re needed now too! The 2004 CSTE position statement noted increasing outbreaks at swimming pools and called for CDC action. The following year, stakeholders gathered and recommended CDC lead a process to develop a Model Aquatic Health Code. After 7 years of working with experts in public health, industry, and academia, the first edition was released in 2014. The 2016 MAHC contains updated code language for state and local jurisdictions, along with an annex with scientific rationale for the provisions.
  • The 2016 MAHC includes structural changes, clarifying edits, and new or revised recommendations in the areas of disinfection and water quality, lifeguarding and bather supervision, risk management and safety, and ventilation and air quality. The MAHC website includes a summary of key changes that are in the updated edition, and a “track changes” version with line-by-line edits.
  • CSTE members can use our updated tool to compare their current pool code and practices to key practices the MAHC recommends.
3 Questions CSTE Members Can Ask Themselves
  • Does your health department regulate or inspect swimming pools?
    Explore the MAHC website to access the latest MAHC and supporting materials, our MAHC-based inspection form and other tools, and infographics and other health promotion materials to educate yourself and others about the MAHC.
  • Interested but not sure where to start?
    Join the MAHC Network to connect with health department peers interested in learning more about the MAHC. The Network is free and includes regular webinars with CDC staff and health departments pursuing or considering the MAHC in their community. View past webinars and learn more about the Network.
  • Do you have expertise in recreational water?
    Join the Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code (CMAHC)! Much like the Food Code, the MAHC is updated every 2 years through a national process with stakeholder input. For the 2016 MAHC, 159 change requests were submitted for CMAHC members to vote on. Of these, 92 (58%) change requests were passed by CMAHC and provided to CDC for final decision. Learn more about CMAHC or check out CMAHC Executive Director, Doug Sackett’s, past CSTE blog post.

People in the United States make more than 300 million trips to pools and other bodies of water every year, but 1 in 8 pools are closed upon routine inspection for health hazards. Use the MAHC to help reduce risk and keep swimming fun and healthy in your state.
Michael Beach, PhD and Commander Jasen Kunz, MPH, REHS co-lead CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code program. Visit for more information.

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