New codes and emerging health issues seemed to be the theme of aquatics news in ?06. Meanwhile, the industry pushed for development in new areas, driving research and education that made headlines throughout the year. Several such stories coming onto the scene reshaped aquatics in one short year. Here?s a look back at some of the big news stories of 2006.
The use of ultraviolet systems at sprayparks in the state of New York became a hot topic after passage of emergency legislation requiring the systems on all such parks.
The outbreak at a spraypark in Seneca Lake, N.Y., caused at least 4,000 illnesses in summer 2005 and sparked a class action lawsuit in 2006 against the state for monetary compensation.
Under the new codes, sprayparks had to install UV systems or switch to wading pools. This worried many spraypark operators, who scrambled at the last minute to examine their budgets, research systems, and receive the right permits and inspections to open on time. Several were forced to close.
The popularity of UV systems has made the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta examine UV?s ability to improve another pool problem: chloramines and poor indoor air quality. Excessive chloramines not only affect public health, but also can be an occupational hazard for lifeguards and pool staffers who breathe them for eight to 10 hours a day. Results from the CDC?s study are expected to be released this year.
The same issue was addressed in the World Health Organization?s first aquatic safety guidelines, which were published after 10 years of development. The WHO?s standard will help balance those in the United States, where codes vary widely from state to state. Also in code news was a new ASTM water slide standard that addresses installation, classification, design and operation.
Another regulation implemented last year was the U.S. Department of Labor?s reversed decision allowing 15-year-olds to serve as lifeguards at waterparks. A coalition of aquatics groups convinced Labor officials to change their stance, which originally forbade those under 16 to oversee waterparks. There had been a scramble for employees in summer 2005, with the outcry coming from the waterpark industry, which had a large dependency on 15-year-olds to fill the otherwise short-handed staffs. Following Labor?s decision, 15-year-olds now can work at waterparks, but not dispatch or attend the tops of water slides.
On the education and training front, the National Swimming Pool Foundation launched an online training center so operators can complete part of their certification over the Internet. This comes after the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals phased out its Professional Pool & Spa Operator course. Those with PPSO certification will be recertified through the NSPF.
The American Red Cross, meanwhile, announced an overhaul of its popular lifeguard training courses, with major changes in CPR and first aid instruction.
What?s in store for 2007? If last year was any indication, there?ll be plenty to talk about.