Pools, hot tubs, and other treated recreational water venues

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Public swimming pools, hot tubs, splash parks, wading pools, and other treated recreational water facilities are popular recreational water venues, which are regulated at the provincial or territorial level. In most provinces there is legislation specific to these facilities that provide criteria for their design, construction, and ongoing operation (www.canlii.org). Despite having these criteria, public recreational water venues still present some health risks to users that can result in injury, illness, or death if not identified and managed properly. These risks can be the result of:

  • Physical hazards e.g., suction hazards resulting from poorly designed recirculation systems or entrapment hazards from floating play equipment (BC MOH, 2014).
  • Biological hazards e.g., pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
    • Cryptosporidium, a protozoan parasite, is the most common cause of outbreaks associated with treated recreational water venues (CDC, 2015).
    • Legionella, a bacterium that can cause Legionnaires’ disease or a milder infection called Pontiac disease, can be found in water systems including hot tubs (CDC, 2017).
  • Chemical hazards e.g., exposure to unsafe levels of chlorine gas or other chemicals routinely used to maintain water quality (CDC, 2011), or exposure to disinfection-by-products.

The resources presented below provide information on the design, construction, operation and maintenance design of treated recreational water venues. When these aspects are addressed using best practices, the risks to users are reduced.

NCCEH Resources

Selected External Resources

Peer-Reviewed Articles

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. Omission of a resource does not preclude it from having value.

Last updated Aug 21, 2019