Indoor Water Park Employee Health Risks Highlighted in CDC Report

New research raises serious concerns about health risks faced by indoor water park employees, indicating that they may be more likely to suffer breathing conditions and eye problems due to chemical exposure and inadequate ventilation systems. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new indoor waterpark respiratory and ocular injury study this week, finding employees working around the enclosed pools are up to four times more likely to experience symptoms from combined chlorine levels and poor ventilation systems when compared to other amusement park workers.

The findings were published after Ohio health officials received several complaints of patrons and employees at an indoor water park suffering respiratory and eye problems in July 2015. In response, the Ohio health department conducted an online survey in August 2015, in which nearly 70 percent of respondents reported experiencing eye burning, nose irritation, difficulty breathing, and vomiting at indoor water parks.

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Following the survey, the Ohio health department notified the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, citing the prevalence of symptoms among employees and patrons of the indoor waterpark.

After reviewing the reported ocular and respiratory symptoms, the CDC performed a cross-sectional epidemiologic study, environmental sampling, and ventilation system assessment to determine the root cause of the reported injuries.

The findings suggest that chlorine disinfection byproducts and environmental conditions may cause an increased risk of work-related respiratory and eye problems among employees in the waterparks, when compared to those who worked in other parts of the resort.

Researchers from the CDC discovered the levels of combined chlorine, of which chloramines are a subset, in water exceeded recommended guidelines adding to the employee exposure. Furthermore, the ventilation system of the facility was found to be inadequate, resulting in accumulation of disinfection byproducts that were likely contributing to the higher prevalence of symptoms among waterpark employees.

CDC officials noted that these conditions likely occur in other indoor waterparks nationwide.

The federal health officials recommend that waterpark owners implement vigilant monitoring and maintenance of ventilation and water systems to prevent recreational water-associated illness caused by endotoxins and disinfection byproducts.

Indoor waterpark employees are encouraged to report breathing problems and eye problems to management to prevent the worsening conditions to water and air quality for other employees and patrons. The CDC also recommends anyone entering a pool or spa at a waterpark should shower prior to entering and take regular bathroom breaks to reduce the levels of disinfection byproduct precursors introduced into the water.


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