The World Health Organization has published comprehensive health and safety guidelines for swimming pools and hot tubs the first international standard of its kind.

The document, ?Guidelines for Safe Recreational Water: Swimming Pools and Similar Environments,? took more than 10 years to develop and involved the participation of more than 60 experts from 20 countries.

?We?re seeing an ever-greater use of rivers, lakes, pools, spas and other bathing facilities in both developing and developed countries,? said Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO?s Department of Public Health and the Environment. ?Unfortunately, the benefits are tempered by rising rates of death, injury and disease associated with their use.?

The guidelines advocate simple measures with proven track records. They include effective lifeguard supervision, better water quality and ventilation management and improved responses to ?fecal incidences.?

While the standards are voluntary, safety advocates say they will be a boon to developing countries. But developed countries should benefit as well. In the United States, for example, bathing codes vary wildly from state to state. Chris Brewster, president of the International Life Saving Federation, Americas Region, said the guidelines could provide a tool for those seeking changes. ?Any kind of improvement in regulations requires a champion,? he said. ?What WHO is providing is the ammo required by a champion willing to take up the issue.?

A copy of the guidelines can be found