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Wet and Not-So-Wild: Standards Keep Pools and Spas Safe

With summer temperatures hitting unpleasant heights, people all around the country are taking advantage of household and community swimming pools to cool off and have a good time. And when those temperatures begin to level off and decline this fall, people will start putting their hot tubs and spas to serious use. But while both swimming pools and spas are great resources for relaxation and socializing, they can also present serious health and safety risks if proper care isn't taken. Thankfully, voluntary consensus standards exist that help to support efforts to keep your pool and spa time safe and enjoyable.

For those who live in warm climates and can afford the up-front costs, installing an pool in your backyard makes it easy to cool off with a quick dip. But these pools can pose a significant drowning threat to small children, if safety measures aren't taken. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 people drowned per day during the period of 2005-2009, with about 20% of the victims age 14 and younger. For children under the age of four, home swimming pools are the site of most drowning deaths. Thankfully, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and audited designator ASTM International has developed a standard to help reduce those risks. ASTM F1908-08(2013), Standard Guide for Fences for Residential Outdoor Swimming Pools, Hot Tubs, and Spas, sets down minimum requirements for a variety of fences appropriate for use in connection with outdoor swimming pools and spas, helping to reduce the risks associated with owning an outdoor pool.

While owning your own pool can make swimming on a regular basis easy and convenient, there is a lot of associated maintenance work that needs to be done. Maintaining your pool chlorine level, skimming foreign objects out of the water, and other basic duties can be a pain to do by hand; luckily, technologies have been developed to make these activities easier. But while swimming pool pumps, pool filters, and pool chlorinators can be a godsend for a busy pool owner, they also can pose safety risks of their own. UL 1081-2013a, Standard for Safety for Swimming Pool Pumps, Filters, and Chlorinators, provides guidance intended to address safety concerns associated with nonsubmersible, electric motor-operated water pumps, pump-filter combinations, and chlorinators intended for use in connection with swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas. The standard, which does not address sump pumps or aquarium pumps, was developed by UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.), an ANSI member and audited designator.

As the summer fades and the weather begins to grow cooler, some outdoor pool owners make use of heaters to extend their swimming season into the chillier months. ANSI Z21.56-2014/CSA 4.7-2014, Gas-fired pool heaters, covers newly constructed pool heaters making use of natural, mixed, or liquefied petroleum gas, and provides guidance on the safe, effective installation of these devices in both the U.S. and Canada. This American National Standard (ANS) was developed by CSA Group, an ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer. For those who would rather do their cold-weather swimming inside, gyms, health clubs, and other sites often feature indoor pools. However, the heating of water in enclosed settings can produce significant moisture, resulting in mildew and potentially dangerous mold. ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 190-2013, Method of Testing for Rating Indoor Pool Dehumidifiers, details test methods for determining the moisture-removal capacity of a given device, among other information, and applies to indoor pool dehumidifiers operated using electricity and mechanical vapor-compression refrigeration. ANSI member and audited designator ASHRAE was responsible for developing this ANS.

Whether you and your family prefer to patronize swimming pools, hot tubs, or spas, standards help support the technologies that keep you and yours safe when you're in the water.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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