Tuesday, 04 October 2011 00:00

Aqua Magazine Editor Sounds off on the VGB Vote

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Editorial: The CPSC's Stunning Vote

by Scott Webb

Why?

That was my first thought when I heard that the CPSC would reverse its decision, making previously unblockable drains blockable again.

Nothing happened between the time the CPSC saw these drains as safe, and the time they saw them as unsafe, except for a lot of pleading by people who either had money to make, or had the grief of a personal tragedy to assuage.

In truth, I understand where these groups are coming from (I'm an opportunist myself, and a father of three) but that doesn't make them right, and every objective observer I know is howling that this action was wrong. That is, except for the people we employed in this case to be objective.

We elect government and pay them a great deal of money to be reasonable and impervious to the passions of those with personal motives. Too often, they just aren't.

I actually braved the near-lethal tedium of the CPSC meeting webcast last week. And what a depressing spectacle it was. I could only conclude that everybody involved was getting paid by the word, and the outcome of the meeting was a secondary consideration.

Seriously, these people need real jobs — it focuses the mind.

I do have to applaud the efforts of two members of the Commission, Anne Northup and Nancy Nord. They spoke up for common sense. But every point they made was drowned in a tidal wave of empty verbiage — a tsunami of weary blather, delivered with a certain professional expertise, signifying absolutely nothing.

Nord summed the case up perfectly in her blog, "18 months ago we put in place, by a 3 to 2 vote, a rule interpreting the new pool safety law. Since that time all fifty states have been working hard to implement our rule. However, next week we will reverse our rule because one commissioner who voted in the majority has changed his mind on what the law requires. The result may be to make irrelevant much of the hard work those states have been doing. When I asked if the agency had new data or a new legal interpretation to justify reconsideration of this matter I was told, "No." When I asked for a staff briefing of the commission on this matter, I was told, 'No.' When I asked that we contact the states asking for input on whether the proposed new course of action made sense, I was told, 'No.'

"Despite the agency's refusal to get data, I reached out to several state health officials. I was shocked by what I was told. First, there is strong dismay that a reversal is being considered. Second, this reversal will have serious financial implications for the states that relied on our current interpretation. Third — and most importantly — this reversal will have serious adverse safety implications.

"...we are actively ignoring the experts in the states who have direct responsibility for assuring pool safety. I would sooner rely on their arguments than those of colleagues who have no expertise and who, as we have seen, can always change their minds.

"Common sense and good administrative practice say that when you reverse course, you should find out who will be impacted by your action before you do it. This is even truer when there is no impetus for the reversal and no rallying cry or public discussion prompting you to act."

Not much to add to that, except that this new ruling, by concentrating our pool safety efforts on more complex, less reliable technology, and due to its unintended effect of cutting funds for swimming instruction, will make pools more dangerous.

By News from CPSC

communications@cpsc.gov

To the pool and spa safety community:

On September 28, 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted 3-2 to interpret an unblockable pool or spa drain based on the size of the drain opening and not the size of the drain cover used over the sump. This is an important decision for the pool safety community to be aware of, as CPSC continues to implement the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

The Commissioners heard from some members of Congress and families who have lost their children

Thursday, 29 September 2011 00:00

CPSC Changes VGB Rule

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CPSC Changes VGB Rule

by Scott Webb Aquamagazine.com

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted to reverse its earlier ruling on unblockable drains under VGB. Before the vote yesterday, an approved 18-by-23-inch drain cover could legally be used over a smaller sump in a single drain commercial pool. Now, the sump must also be at least 18 by 23 inches, or the pool will have to install other anti-entrapment measures, such as split drains, vent pipes, SVRS systems, etc.

Pools that met the old VGB criteria, using an approved drain cover over a smaller sump, will have to invest in equipment or renovations to meet the requirements of the new ruling.

At one point in discussions, a new compliance date of May 28, 2012, was proposed, but in its final statement, the CPSC announced

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 00:00

Public pools violating drain laws due to close Saturday

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Students in a lifeguard class at Vernon Hills High School might have to go elsewhere for training. The pool will be closed Saturday because the school is not in compliance with a 2008 federal law requiring pool drains that prevent swimmers from getting trapped under water. (Keri Wiginton, Chicago Tribune / September 28, 2011)

from Chicagotribune.com

By Robert McCoppin and Amy Alderman, Tribune reporters

8:16 a.m. CDT, September 28, 2011

About 400 pools statewide are in danger of closing this weekend because they do not have legally mandated drains designed to keep swimmers from getting trapped, regulators warned Tuesday.

Some schools, park districts, hotels, and condo and apartment complexes may have to shut down their pools and hot tubs, potentially disrupting swim teams, lessons, exercise classes and recreational swimmers.

State officials said they warned pool managers about the new requirements six times over the past three years and would not extend the deadline beyond Saturday. Pools that aren't in compliance could remain closed for two months or more pending state approval of their plans.

New drains or covers that can't trap swimmers with powerful suction are required

Thursday, 22 September 2011 00:00

How safe is your indoor swimming pool?

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How safe is your indoor swimming pool?

By Jacque Wilson, CNN

(CNN) -- Catherine Garceau doesn't go to the pool anymore. The former Olympic swimmer has trained at many fitness centers over the years that smelled strongly of chlorine. While most would assume that means the water is clean, Garceau now knows it's just the opposite.

After winning bronze in 2000 with the Canadian synchronized swimming team in Sydney, Australia, Garceau was a "mess." Her digestive system was in turmoil, she had chronic bronchitis and she suffered from frequent migraines.

Garceau retired in 2002 and began looking into holistic medicine. Experts suggested detoxifying her body to rid it of chemicals, including what fellow teammates used to jokingly refer to