Fact Sheet: Use the MAHC to Make Swimming Healthy and Safe

staff testing the pool chemicals next to diving platform

Health jurisdictions and the aquatics sector can use the MAHC to make swimming and other water activities safer and healthier.

CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) is guidance to prevent injury and illness linked to aquatic venues — such as pools, hot tubs, and splash pads — open to the public. This guidance brings together the latest science and best practices to help jurisdictions save time and resources when they develop and update pool codes.

Help keep people healthy and safe by using the MAHC to reduce these health risks
  • Drowning. More children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death. For children ages 5–14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes.
  • Pool chemical injuries. Pool chemical injuries account for about 4,500 emergency department visits each year. At least one third of the patients are less than 18 years old.
  • Disease outbreaks linked to swimming. Over 200 disease outbreaks linked to pools, hot tubs, and splash pads occurred during 2015–2019. The leading cause of these outbreaks was Cryptosporidium. This parasite is very chlorine tolerant and can cause outbreaks that individually make hundreds or thousands sick.
  • Public pool and hot tub/spa closings because of public health hazards. 1 out of 8 routine public pool inspections and 1 out of 7 routine public hot tub/spa inspections result in immediate closure because of at least one violation representing a serious threat to public health.

How can the MAHC be used?

CDC created the MAHC at the request of health departments and the aquatics sector to provide scientifically based guidance at the national level. The MAHC helps jurisdictions save the time and resources previously used to develop and update their codes themselves. The MAHC is not a federal law. The MAHC is a CDC guidance document and only becomes law if voluntarily adopted by a local, state, territorial, or tribal jurisdiction. This means jurisdictions can

  • Choose to adopt all of it or parts of it
  • Modify part or all of it to fit their needs
  • Use it as a reference

Aquatics sector leaders can also work with health departments to use the MAHC to make swimming and other water activities safer and healthier, even if the jurisdiction has not yet adopted the MAHC.

What does the MAHC include?

The MAHC includes model code language (Code) and scientific explanations (Annex). The MAHC addresses

  • Design and construction — such as secondary disinfection systems to kill chlorine-tolerant germs and reduce illness and outbreaks.
  • Operation and maintenance — such as lifeguarding standards to reduce drowning.
  • Policies and management — such as training for pool operators to reduce pool chemical injuries, pool closures, and other issues.