By Lauren Broom Florida public pool code on free chlorine level proposed updates Background
Florida’s public pool code is contained in Chapter 64E-9, Florida Administrative Code (FAC). It contains some of the rules that Florida pool techs must follow regarding public pools. The other rules the Florida Department of Health pool inspectors may use for their inspections are contained in Section 454 of the Florida Building Code (FBC). The FAC has not been updated since July 20, 2016.
In 2022, the Florida Department of Health state office released a proposed code update to section 64E-9.004, FAC. This section contains the operational requirements for public pools. Currently, the free chlorine level for a public pool is 1-10 ppm, spas 2- 10 ppm, and splash pads 2-10 ppm. The recent code update can be found on this website: https://www.flrules. org/ gateway/ RuleNo. asp? id=64E-9.004
What is the update to the free chlorine level?
Pool techs need to be aware of the proposed change in the upper limit for the free chlorine level. It is proposed to be lowered to 4 ppm for pools and splash pads, and 5 ppm for spas. This proposal changes the acceptable ranges to the following: Pools 1 – 4 ppm; Spas 2- 5 ppm; Splash Pads 2-4 ppm Social media posts have shown that there is great contention on this matter. Pool pros are trying to determine how they are going to be able to maintain very small ranges because the facilities are mostly outdoors and are affected by many environmental factors. Answers may lie in more advanced equipment like Oxidation Reduction Potential Controllers (ORP) that will be capable of monitoring and adding more chlorine to the pool even when the pool tech is not present at the facility.
Why a change in the free chlorine level?
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) labeling requirements contain specific directions for the use of chlorine that if not followed is a violation of federal law. The following statement can be found on any container of chlorine used in the pool industry: “EPA labeling on chlorine containers state re-entry into treated swimming pools is prohibited above the level of 4 ppm of chlorine due to risk of bodily injury.”
The labeling is the reason for the change in the upper limit of chlorine in the Florida public pool code. The state code cannot negate the obvious labeling required by federal law to be followed on the product.
Another reason for lowering the maximum chlorine limit may be related to high chlorine
Lauren Broom is a Certified Pool Operator Course, CPO
, instructor and a former health inspector for the Florida Department of Health. Lauren has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and is a registered sanitarian.
She has 16-years of experience in commercial pool inspections and waterborne disease outbreak investigations.
Lauren lives in Palm Bay, Florida with her husband of 17 years and their 3 children.
Lauren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
EPA chlorine level requirement concentrations for safe discharge into Florida’s water system. Swimming pools have been a source of improper discharges into municipal stormwater systems that lead to Florida waterways. Chlorine can hurt the plant and aquatic life in surface waters (natural environments) if it is too high. Even at low levels, chlorine can be toxic to aquatic life. Subsection 62302.530(19), FAC under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection( FDEP), limits the discharge of chlorine to surface water bodies to less than or equal to 0.01 ppm. Other states require permits for discharges and methods to dechlorinate the water before disposal. FDEP and EPA are organizations that either provide guidance or requirements to protect against negative impacts on Florida’s environment.
What is the current status of this proposed code update?
On January 24, 2023, the Florida Department of Health held an online public hearing that resulted in many participants voicing their opposition to lowering the free chlorine upper limit. On February 20, 2023, a notice was issued that the code update would be postponed until a petition brought by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, Inc. and Martin Aquatic Design I Engineering, LLC could be heard. The petition challenges the validity of the updates within Chapter 64E-9.004, FAC.
Florida pool techs now wait to see what will happen to the chlorine upper limit.