Regulators said to weaken pool-drain law

July 2, 2010 at 4:21 PM

WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) -- Critics say U.S. regulators weakened a measure meant to prevent deaths and injuries from pool and hot tub drains amid industry pressure.

Congressional backers of the measure and parents of drowning victims say they are pressing the Consumer Product Safety Commission to restore a requirement that backup systems in public pools and hot tubs have backup systems that shut off suction if drains become obstructed, USA Today reported.

Strong suction from the drains can trap body parts and hold people underwater.

The CPSC says there have been 72 deaths and 262 people trapped by the drains since 1980 but concedes the cases are underreported. Three-quarters of the deaths and injuries since 1999 were among victims younger than 15, the agency said.

The measure, passed in 2007, required public pools and to have the automatic shutoff systems along with unblockable drain covers.

The agency interpreted the law in the "most egregious and narrow way possible" by eliminating the required backup systems, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and co-sponsors of the law said in a letter to CPSC Commissioner Robert Adler last month.

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said in a letter to CPSC the vote to drop the backup system requirement violated the "spirit and the letter of the act."

The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals called the March vote "a significant victory for safety and the pool and spa industry." The trade group said it was "another endorsement" of the group's safety standards. A spokeswoman said the backup systems could create a false sense of security.

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