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Decoding the MAHC

Clean it up, Swimmers - infographic


Decoding the Model Aquatic Health Code [PDF - 1 page]

Visit the Fact Sheets page to download individual fact sheets in this series.


Decoding the MAHC: The Model Aquatic Health Code.

The MAHC is a free resource, based on science and best practices, to help
state and local health professionals make swimming and other water activities healthier and safer.

300 Million: Trips people in the U.S. make to pools and other swimming areas each year.

People who swim can enjoy:

  • Increased physical & mental health.
  • Lower risk for chronic diseases, joint & muscle pain, death.
  • Increased quality of life & decreased disability in older age.

The Problem: But some places we swim aren't clean or safe. 1 in 8 Pools closed immediately on routine inspection for critical health and safety problems.

Problems can lead to:

  • Drowning: A leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1-14, second only to motor vehicle crashes.
  • Outbreaks: Rise in recreational water illness outbreaks: 12/year in early 1990s to 41/year in late 2000s—a single outbreak can sicken thousands.
  • Chemical Injuries: Almost 5,000 people visited the ER in 2012 for an injury from a pool chemical—almost half of visits were among kids.

The Process:

  • 7 years, 12 technical committees, 140 people, Input and consensus from public health, aquatics, academia.
  • 2 rounds of public comment, 4,407 comments—Received from partners, industry, public health, and interested public.

14 Topic Areas:

  1. Preface, user guide, glossary
  2. Contamination burden
  3. Disinfection/water quality
  4. Facility design/construction
  5. Facility maintenance/operation
  6. Hygiene facilities
  7. Lifeguarding/bather supervision
  8. Monitoring/testing
  9. Operator training
  10. Regulatory
  11. Risk management/safety
  12. Ventilation/air quality
  13. Fecal/vomit/blood contamination response
  14. Recirculation/filtration

The Product: Guidelines, based on science and best practices, on how to best design, construct, operate, and maintain public pools and other aquatic facilities.

68% of local health departments regulate or inspect public swimming pools and facilities. The MAHC is NOT a federal law. It's voluntary, model guidance to help reduce the burden on state and local pool programs that individually write their own codes.

Use the MAHC:

  • To update existing codes for public swimming pools and other aquatic facilities.
  • To incorporate guidelines based on science and best practices into state and local aquatic programs.
  • However you want: use, change, and incorporate the entire MAHC—or just pieces of it—into state or local health codes.

The Public Health Impact:

The MAHC can help:

  • Prevent drowning, illness, and injury.
  • Raise minimum standards and reduce inspection violations.
  • Keep pools open for more summer and year-round fun.

Help make swimming healthier and safer. Learn more about The Model Aquatic Health Code. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
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