Before you cannonball into your neighborhood swimming pool this summer — or slip into a hot tub for a relaxing soak — check the last time it was inspected.
Thousands of pools, hot tubs, and splash parks are shut down every year due to health and safety violations, according to a new report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 80 percent of public pools and water playgrounds had at least one violation during inspection.
According to the CDC, illness outbreaks related to swimming pools and hot tubs have increased significantly in recent years. Most of these were caused by Cryptosporidium, a parasite that can survive in pools even at CDC-recommended chlorine levels.
Researchers ran the data on 2013 inspections of nearly 50,000 public pools and hot tubs in Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas. The worst offenders: kiddie pools, 20 percent of which had been closed at one point for some sort of violation. The most common problems reported during inspection were improper pH, inadequate safety equipment, and inappropriate disinfectant concentrations. (Too high of a pH can make chlorine less effective at disinfection.)
“[The findings] are clearly concerning,” said Michael Beach, Associate Director for Healthy Water at the CDC. “We need to protect the public,” he added.
Not all of the violations were minor. One out of every eight inspections led to a pool, hot tub, or splash pad being closed immediately.
The CDC recommends swimmers check to make sure the inspections at their neighborhood pool are up to date. Then, they’re free to just keep swimming.