Water sanitation hygiene

Guidelines for safe recreational water environments

Volume 1: Coastal and fresh waters

World Health Organization

safe recreational water, vol 1 cover

Publication details

Number of pages: 253
Publication date: 2003
Languages: English, Executive summary in Russian
ISBN: 92 4 154580 1


The WHO Guidelines for Safe Recreational Water Environments, and its 2009 addendum with updates describe the present state of knowledge regarding the health hazards and risks associated with the recreational use of coastal and freshwater environments. Drowning and injury, exposure to cold, heat and sunlight, water quality (especially exposure to water contaminated by sewage, but also exposure to freeliving pathogenic microorganisms in recreational waters), contamination of beach sand, exposure to algae and their products, exposure to chemical and physical agents, and dangerous aquatic organisms are specificallly addressed. Control and monitoring and management of these hazards and risks are also discussed.

The primary aim of the Guidelines is the protection of public health. The Guidelines are intended to be used as the basis for the development of international and national approaches (including standards and regulations) to controlling the health risks from hazards that may be encountered in recreational water environments. The Guidelines provide a framework for local decision-making. The Guidelines may also be used as reference material and as a checklist for industries and operators assessing potential health impacts of development projects in recreational water areas, and in the conduct of environmental impact and environmental health impact assessments in particular.

Executive summary

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