Health and Community Services

Recreational Facilities

Environmental Health Officers with the Government Service Centre, Department of Government Services, carry out inspections of recreational facilities to ensure that the public is not exposed to health and safety risks, or that the risks are minimized as much as possible. Depending on the type of recreational facility, water or air samples may be taken to further determine the safety of the facility.

What health and safety hazards may be present in swimming pools, hot tubs, or spas?

Public pools in Newfoundland and Labrador are inspected for compliance with the Public Pool Regulations under the Health and Community Services Act. Public pools are also expected to be maintained in order to meet the standards provided in the Pool Water Quality Guidelines PDF (177 KB).

Proper maintenance and operation of pools, and proper disinfection of pool water, can prevent most health and safety hazards in pools. These hazards can include:

  • Microbial hazards:
    • Bacteria, such as Pseudomonas (can cause infections of the skin), Legionella (can cause lung infection) or E. coli (can cause stomach illness).
    • Viruses, such as Hepatitis A (can cause stomach illness), and Adenovirus (can cause pink eye)
    • Fungi, such as Tinea pedis (can cause Athlete's foot)
    • Parasites, such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia (both can cause stomach illness).
  • Chemical hazards:
    • Chemicals used to clean pool water must be stored safely and used correctly.
  • Physical hazards:
    • Swimming pools must be maintained and operated in a manner that prevents injuries to all visitors, and must be supplied with certain equipment in case of an emergency.

A note about backyard pools:

Many homeowners in Newfoundland and Labrador have chosen to buy inflatable swimming pools for use during the summer months. It is important to remember that the hazards listed above can also be present in these pools. Safety is especially important, as children can drown in only a few inches of water. Check with your municipal government to find out about any local requirements for outdoor pools. Never leave children unattended when swimming, and be sure to keep children away from the pool, preferably with a fence with a self-closing gate, when it is not in use.

What health and safety hazards may be present in parks or campgrounds?

Freshwater ponds in parks or campgrounds, are often used for swimming. Sometimes, the water can contain Schistosoma parasites, which can cause Swimmer's Itch PDF (391 KB), or Giardia, which can cause "Beaver Fever". Environmental Health Officers post signs in parks where these organisms have been found to cause illness, to alert swimmers of the hazard.

Untreated surface water, including roadside spring water, can contain bacteria, viruses, or parasites which may cause severe stomach illness. Most parks and campgrounds provide a designated safe source of drinking water for their campers. Be sure to boil your drinking water when you are instructed to do so by park officials.

What health and safety hazards may be present in arenas?

Gas-powered equipment used to resurface ice in indoor arenas, can create poor air quality within the facility. Carbon monoxide or nitrogen dioxide gas from the exhaust of these and other vehicles, can cause headaches, tiredness, nausea, weakness and dizziness for skaters or arena workers.

Proper maintenance and operation of ice resurfacing equipment, and adequate ventilation, help to ensure that these gases does not become a problem. Detectors can also be used to alert the public when carbon monoxide gas levels are elevated.

Environmental Health Officers can perform air quality checks in arenas, if requested.

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