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Information on Healthy Swimming and Recreational Water

  • There are 10.4 million residential and 309,000 public swimming pools in the United States 1.
  • In the United States during 2009, there were approximately 301 million swimming visits each year by persons over the age of six 2.
  • Thirty-six percent of children aged 7-17 years, and 15% of adults in the United States, swim at least six times per year 2.
  • About half (56.8%) of spas are in violation of local environmental health ordinances, and about 1 in 9 spas require immediate closure (11%) 12.
  • Swimming is the fourth most popular recreational activity in the United States 2.
  • Swimming is the most popular recreational activity for children and teens (ages 7-17) 2.
  • There are over 6.6 million hot tubs in operation in the United States 3.
  • Almost 1 in 8 (12.1% or 13,532 of 111,487) routine pool inspections conducted during 2008 identified serious violations that threatened public health and safety and resulted in an immediate closure 4.
  • More than 1 in 10 (10.7% or 12,917 of 120,975) routine pool inspections identified pool disinfectant level violations. Chlorine and other pool disinfectants are the primary barrier to the spread of germs in the water in which we swim 4.
  • A total of 134 recreational water–associated outbreaks affecting at least 13,966 persons were reported to CDC for 2007-2008, the largest number of outbreaks ever reported in a 2-year period 5.
  • Cryptosporidium (or Crypto) is an extremely chlorine-tolerant parasite that can survive in a properly chlorinated pool for 3.5–10.6 days 6.
  • Of 81 recreational water–associated outbreaks of gastroenteritis during 2007-2008, 74.1% were caused by Crypto 5.
  • Of 70 gastroenteritis outbreaks associated with treated (for example, chlorinated) recreational water venues, 82.9% were caused by Crypto 5.
  • In 2007, Crypto caused a statewide recreational water–associated outbreak that affected approximately 5,700 persons 7.
  • More than 1 in 5 (21.6%) of American adults do not know swimming while ill with diarrhea can heavily contaminate water in which we swim with Crypto and make other swimmers sick 7.
  • In 2008, almost 4,600 persons visited an emergency department for pool chemical-associated injuries. The most common injury diagnoses were poisoning, which includes ingestion of pool chemicals as well as inhalation of vapor, fumes, or gases and dermatitis/conjunctivitis. More than half of the injuries occurred at a residence 5.
  • Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death among children aged 1–4 years. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among children 5–9 years 8.
  • More than 60% of fatal drownings of 0–4 year-olds occur in swimming pools 9.
  • In the United States in 2009, almost 24 million individuals participated in motor or power boat activities 2.
  • In 2010, 3,153 persons were injured and 672 died in recreational boating accidents 10.
  • Of those who drowned in a boating accident, 88% were reported to not be wearing a life jacket 11.
  1. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. U.S. Swimming Pool and Hot Tub Market 2011 Adobe PDF file [PDF – 1 page].External Web Site Icon
  2. US Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012. Arts, Recreation, and Travel: Participation in Selected Sports Activities 2009   Adobe PDF file [PDF – 2 pages]External Web Site Icon
  3. Hubbard R. U.S. Hot Tub Sales Not so Hot in 2007. Pool and Spa Marketing. March (2009b):14.
  4. CDC. Violations Identified from Routine Swimming Pool Inspections — Selected States and Counties, United States, 2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010;59(19):582-7.
  5. Hlavsa M, Roberts V, Anderson A, Hill V, Kahler A, Orr M, Garrison L, Hicks L, Newton A, Hilborn E, Wade T, Beach M, Yoder J. Surveillance for Waterborne Disease Outbreaks and Other Health Events Associated with Recreational Water — United States, 2007-2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60(ss12):1-32.
  6. Shields JM, Hill VR, Arrowood MJ, Beach MJ. Inactivation of Cryptosporidium parvum Under Chlorinated Recreational Water Conditions.External Web Site Icon J Water Health 2008;6(4):513–20.
  7. CDC. Promotion of Healthy Swimming After a Statewide Outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis Associated with Recreational Water Venues — Utah, 2008–2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012;61(19):348-52.
  8. CDC. Drowning – United States, 2005-2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012;61(19):344-347.
  9. CDC. Vital Signs: Unintentional Injury Deaths Among Persons 0-19 Years – United States, 2000-2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012;61(15):270-276.
  10. CDC. Boating Safety.
  11. Boating Safety Resource Center. Recreational Boating Statistics 2010 Adobe PDF file [PDF – 77 pages].External Web Site Icon United States Coast Guard. 2011.
  12. CDC. Surveillance Data from Public Spa Inspections — United States, May–September 2002. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2004;53(25):553-5