How should the hot trend of cold plunging be regulated in Utah?

Jan 22, 2024, 5:00 PM

Priscila de Andrade, cold-plunges in a tub at Ash and Ice in Pleasant Grove on Friday, Jan. 19, 202...

Priscila de Andrade, cold-plunges in a tub at Ash and Ice in Pleasant Grove on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. Cold tub plunge centers are waiting on legislation to be able to open. Andrade is a friend of the owners, and the tub was filled as a demonstration. (Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

(Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Capitol Hill is wading into the growing trend of cold plunging. A Utah County lawmaker wants to allow some cold plunging without health department regulations.

According to Dr. Raj Dasgupta, there are benefits to cold plunging when done correctly. 

“Cold-water exposure can increase the production of white blood cells in the body, which are responsible for fighting infection,” said Dr. Dasgupta.

State Sen. Curtis Bramble is sponsoring SB106, which aims to regulate public cold baths.

Individuals vs. businesses

Bramble said the state statutes on small one-person cold-plunge equipment are silent on how it should be regulated.

“So the Departments of Health, both county and state, have had no option but to regulate them like swimming pools.”

Bramble said the prefabricated tanks, equipped with refrigeration units and sanitation filters, meant for individual use “don’t fit the regulatory structure of a swimming pool.”

Under his bill, there will be no health department regulation imposed on a one-person bath that is “maintained at a temperature lower than 60°F and is limited to no more than 180 gallons at a depth that allows the bather to maintain his or her head above the water while in a seated position.”

However, regulations would be in place for larger cold plunge tanks designed for a handful of bathers. Larger tanks are often run by businesses. 

“We wanted to give statutory clarity [to cold plunges]. That’s really what’s going on,” he said.

If signed into law, Bramble’s legislation would go into effect on May 1, 2024.

Cold plunging can be dangerous

According to the CDC, “Cold water immersion creates a specific condition known as immersion hypothermia. It develops much more quickly than standard hypothermia because water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air.”

“Typically people in temperate climates don’t consider themselves at risk from hypothermia in the water, but hypothermia can occur in any water temperature below 70°F,” the CDC explains. 

 According to a 2022 survey published in the Interactive Journal of Medical Research, cold-water swimming may put people with underlying heart and cardiovascular conditions at greater risk for poor heart health, as reported in “What Happens to Your Body When You Do Cold Plunges.”

Related reading:

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How should the hot trend of cold plunging be regulated in Utah?