Managers of aquatic facilities have significant tools at their disposal to achieve a healthier natatorium environment for athletes, coaches, parents, spectators and staff. The Model Aquatic Health Code, or MAHC, released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) this year, and innovative engineering/technological advances, lay the groundwork for achievable air and water quality management goals. Willdan has set the bar for the industry in terms of implementing cost-effective, workable, long-term solutions—at world-class aquatic facilities including the Olympian-sized Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Seattle, WA and the North Clackamas Aquatic Center in Clackamas, OR.

According to a study published in Recreation Management in June 2015, schools and colleges have the largest number of indoor pools. Some 86 percent of school respondents and 85.7 percent of college respondents had indoor pools. More than seven in 10 aquatic respondents from YMCAs (79.1 percent) and health clubs (73.5 percent) also had indoor swimming pools.

75 percent of health departments reported shutting down at least one pool in the past two years due to problems of turbidity, pH imbalance and inadequate chlorine.

According to Dr. Mary Pohlman, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and a member of the United States Masters Swimming Sports Medicine Committee, in a May 2010 article for Swimmer Magazine, pool disinfection by-products cause health problems for some swimmers.

Just this year, a study conducted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials surveyed health officials around the country and the pool operators they inspect. According to the study, 75 percent of health departments reported shutting down at least one pool in the past two years due to problems of turbidity, pH imbalance and inadequate chlorine. "I believe that this issue has come to the forefront of aquatic operations," said Juliene Hefter, executive director/CEO of the Association of Aquatic Professionals. "Without proper air circulation, it is next to impossible to keep water and air quality high.”

Indoor pools are especially susceptible to the buildup of irritating chemicals in the atmosphere. Poor ventilation results in vapors trapped inside the pool structure, further degrading air quality. Chlorine is an odorless gas, but the chloramine compounds resulting from its interaction with ammonia or organic contaminants have the strong odor typically associated with chlorinated pools. In addition, certain chloramines result in irritated eyes and nasal passages. Trichloramines and trihalomethanes form when the contaminant levels continue to rise in the pool. Swimmers report asthmatic reactions to the chemicals, and wheezing or coughing is common.

Willdan leads the industry through our work with County Health Departments in Orange County, LA County, Riverside County, the San Francisco Bay Area (12 counties including San Francisco), and Madera County in California; and all 15 counties In Arizona including Maricopa County, which is the 4th largest county in the United States.  According to Eliza Gregory Coll, MHA, CEM, Emergency Management and Public Health Preparedness Consultant with Willdan Homeland Solutions, “Some of our planning scenarios pertain to air quality (e.g., health issues resulting from wildfire or a chemical/biological incident) and water quality (e.g., a scenario on contaminated water supply).” 

As a full-service architecture and engineering firm, Willdan has the experience and expertise to address and optimize the full range of air quality issues that plague indoor swimming pool owners. We balance engineering solutions, industry leadership, and the knowledge of our team of over 600 staff and subject matter experts nationwide to deliver industry-leading solutions to our aquatic facility customers.