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Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code (CMAHC)

September 28, 2017

CMAHC - You may have seen this acronym flying around lately. What does it stand for, and why does it seem like the sky is falling?

 

The CMAHC is a Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code. They are a non-profit entity whose purpose is to publish health and safety measures to reassure safe practices for swimming and other aquatic exercise facilities. Through their council made up of memberships, sponsors, and an advisory board they publish the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) relies heavily on the advice and published regulations from non profits, such as, and including the CMAHC.

This proposed 3rd revision of the MAHC includes new text regarding Floatation Tanks and will be voted on by the members in October 2017. It is not clear what impact this would have on the float industry but it’s a thing that’s happening, that you should be aware of.

 

To see the whole of the proposed text visit their website here (and type floatation into the search bar). The members of the CMAHC all get the opportunity to vote on proposed changes. Anyone can become a member of the CMAHC for a nominal fee, details of which are on their website. Of the final vote, membership votes make up for 50% of the final tally, and the other 50% say comes from the advisory board.

 

Will this affect you and your float centre? Your municipality may or may not refer or rely on the recommendations of the CDC and/or CMAHC. Some municipalities have their own regulations, and other places that don’t have specific regulations in place may look to the MAHC for guidance is choosing what protocol should apply to you, and your business. Legislative regulatory boards across the world refer to the standards set in place by the CDC, and at a minimum, used as a reference text.

 

So what are the proposed changes? Below is a very brief summary, please reference their website for the full text.

  • Float systems and related equipment to be tested to a specific standard by an ANSI-accredited certification organization (ie: NSF).

  • Recirculation system to be balanced, filtration system designed to meet turnover requirements, pumped designed to meet volume turnover.

  • Disinfection shall be provided by either:

    • Ozone Treatment System,

      • Criteria for ozone level and testing specified in NSF/ANSI Standard 50-2016

    • Combination Ozone Treatment / UV treatment system.

      • Shall meet 3 log reduction of influent bacteria disinfection as tested in accordance with the criteria specified in NSF/ANSI Standard 50-2016 at design filtration flow rate.

      • Calibrated UV sensors installed and if UV equipment fails to produce the required dosage an alarm or other indicator shall be initiated to alert staff.

      • UV sensors calibrated at a frequency in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.

      • Records of calibration shall be maintained by the facility and available for review.

  • Ozone shall be operated and maintained so as to meet the ozone concentration output and not exceed the limits of off-gassed ozone in accordance with MAHC4.12.11.1.3.3

  • Ventilation, air systems shall be provided when applicable to maintain acceptable air quality in accordance with ASHRAE standard 62.1 2013

  • Ventilation serving the float tank shall be provided when necessary to ensure acceptable air quality for human health within the float tank.

  • Electrical – equipment shall comply with UL1563

  • Floors – shall meet the requirements of MAHC4.10.3

  • Cleansing showers shall be provided in or immediately available to the float room.

  • Signs or other comparable means of notification shall be provided instructing patrons to shower before entering the float tank.

  • Only one floater at a time.

  • Filtration systems shall be operated for 1 volumetric turnover before first use of the day.

  • 5 volumetric turnover rate between users (unless separate reservoir, in which case all the water must pass through the filter).

  • System control will have a minimum length of time required to achieve 5 turnovers (set as default where automated, timer posted adjacent to pump control if manual).

  • Only USP Grade Magnesisum sulfate shall be used.

  • Interior surfaces at the waterline to be scrubbed daily.

  • Interior surfaces to be scrubbed weekly.

  • Tanks to be drained and scrubbed at a frequency necessary to prevent build up of slime and biofilm layers.

  • Standard poop/vomit clause. If it’s solid scoop and bleach, if it’s not solid, dump and disinfect.

Many float center owner/operators disagree with these proposed codes for various reasons. The biggest of which is that there is no evidence suggesting ozone, a toxic substance as defined by the EPA, is safe within the confines of an enclosed tank.

 

The annexed portion of the proposed change goes on to say that the ‘use of hydrogen peroxide is unacceptable.’ and that there is ‘potential air quality concerns within the closed floatation tank during use, such as build up of carob dioxide or disinfection by-products. However, there is insufficient information at this time to determine if, or to what extend there may be a problem’.

 

In the opinion of many, the CMAHC is rushing in to make codes, that are not based on the available science, or on a history of problems with people getting sick from tanks. We all know that floating is an incredibly low risk environment, and there is a complete lack of reported cases of illness or transmittable diseases within a float tank.

 

The Float Tank Association (FTA) has been on the front lines arguing their case for months. Their board members have various ideas as to how to stop the change request from proceeding. Some efforts we are aware of is for every float centre owner to pay to be a member of the CMAHC, vote on October 17th or 18th to make their voice heard, lobbying, lawsuit, and changing the model of the public facing float centre to that of a private members only club. It is up to you to decide which effort (if any) you feel comfortable backing.

The Float Collective is 1,500+ members strong and we wanted to use this platform to provide you with the best collaboration of information we could gather on this topic. Please chime in with all your thoughts, concerns questions.

 

This information is provided to help you decide what is best for you, your centre, and determine the level of involvement you want to invest. Here are some resources you may find helpful: 

Art of the Float Podcast with Colin Stanwell-Smith (Part 1 & 2)

Float Conference Podcast #118 with Shoshana & Kevin of the Float Tank Association 

& Float Conference Podcast #109 with Jason MacDonald

 

CMAHC website

 

 

 

            FTA newsletter 

 

 

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