Nov 20, 2009

NSPF: National Swimming Pool Environmental Health Leaders Meeting Fosters Dialogue

Attendees represented 80% of all pools in the U.S.

The third annual National Swimming Pool Environmental Health Leaders (NSPEHL) Meeting was held on Oct. 28 in Atlanta, Ga., prior to the opening of the sixth annual World Aquatic Health Conference (WAHC), hosted by the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF). According to NSPF, the NSPEHL Meeting fostered communication, best practices and problem solving between state and county health departments.

“The NSPEHL meeting is the most broadly attended forum for environmental health leaders to meet and discuss technical and administrative issues affecting swimming pool programs,” said Doug Sackett, assistant director, New York State Health Department and director of the Model Aquatic Health Code.

This year’s meeting reported record attendance, with 65 attendees, a 25% increase over 2007. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia were represented, which account for regions that represent about 80% of the nation’s public pools. The four states with the most pools--California, Florida, Texas and Arizona--were all represented.

“It is wonderful to see health officials from around the U.S. solving problems together to make better informed decisions for their communities,” said Tracynda Davis, NSPF director of environmental health programs and meeting coordinator. “Also, having the latest research presented at the WAHC helps us make wiser decisions. People are already putting Oct. 6 to 8, 2010, in Colorado Springs on their calendar for the next NSPEHL Meeting and WAHC.”

Sackett started the day with a review of the Model Aquatic Health Code. Next, Kathleen Reilly, public affairs specialist with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shared the latest on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGBA) enforcement and educational efforts.
Attendees listened to a presentation, “Preserving a Pool Program in These Economic Times,” with Jim Ridge, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control; then, Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Healthy Swimming Program, along with Elizabeth Dunbar, CDC, led a Q&A session. A discussion panel on entrapment protection led by four health officials addressed current products on the market--positives and negatives--and impacts on VGBA alterations on existing pools.