CPSC Agrees to Implement Pool Protections Advocated by Blumenthal, Larson, Himes

(Washington, DC) – Senator Richard Blumenthal, Representatives John Larson and Jim Himes, and other members of Congress today received a favorable reply from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on their request to require additional protection for single-drain pools to prevent needless injuries and death following a number of accidents in Connecticut and across the country.

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum wrote that the Commission voted on September 28 to revoke the April 6, 2010 interpretive definition, and “will be providing updated guidance to public pool and spa operators stating that compliance with the VGB Act requires installation of both a compliant drain cover as well as a secondary back-up system… I am pleased that a majority of my fellow Commissioners now agree with this position.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 2008 and 2010 an estimated average of 5,100 pool or spa emergency department-treated submersions for children younger than 15 occurred each year. Children younger than five represented 79 percent of these-injuries.

Blumenthal, Larson, and Himes were joined in their original letter by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), as well as Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

The full text of the letter is below:


Thank you for your correspondence regarding the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) April 6, 2010, interpretive definition of “unblockable drain” for purposes of enforcing the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB Act). In that correspondence, you stated that the interpretive definition did not follow the Congressional intent of the VGB Act to require single drain public pools to incorporate both an anti-entrapment drain cover and another layer of protection. Accordingly, you urged the Commission to reconsider the April 6, 2010, interpretive definition.

I am pleased to report that on September 28, 2011, the Commission voted to revoke the April 6, 2010, interpretive definition, and will be providing updated guidance to public pool and spa operators stating that compliance with the VGB Act requires installation of both a compliant drain cover as well as a secondary back-up system. In order to provide public pool and spa operators time to make any necessary changes to their pools, the Commission set a May 28, 2012, compliance date for the revised requirement. 

I opposed the Commission’s April 6, 2010, interpretive rule because I believed that guidance failed to follow the intent of the VGB Act, which was to establish layers of protection long advocated by families of victims and pool safety advocates. I am pleased that a majority of my fellow Commissioners now agree with this position.

A copy of my public statement regarding yesterday’s vote is attached to this letter. It provides additional information on my efforts to prevent pool and spa entrapment hazards and fully implement the VGB Act.

Thank you again for your steadfast support of the VGB Act and the Commission’s ongoing efforts to make pools and spas safer for everyone.

Very truly yours,

Inez M. Tenenbaum

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Press Contact

Lily Adams (Blumenthal), (202) 224-2823

Chris Licata (Larson) (860) 539-4924

Elizabeth Kerr (Himes) (202) 225-5541