Water sanitation hygiene

Recreational waters

Children on a beach in Timor Leste
WHO/SEARO/Karen Reidy

Recreational use of water in fresh and coastal waters as well as pools and spas can deliver important benefits to health and well-being. Yet, recreational water use also poses risks though exposure to pollution as well as physical risk such as drowning and injury.

WHO activities on "recreational" or "bathing" water date back to the 1970s. Expert meetings identified the breadth of hazards associated with recreational water and established links between water quality and bather health and proposed grading water quality using a combination of indicator counts and the use of sanitary inspection.

WHO Guidelines for Safe Recreational Water Environment – Volume 1 for pools and spas and Volume 2 for coastal and fresh water environments - summarise risks to bathers and sets out a risk based approach for management and monitoring for recreational waters through safety plans.

See also