It’s Shark Week and if the anniversary release of Jaws and the recent spate of shark attacks has you afraid to go back in the water, consider this – it isn’t the sharks you should worry about, it’s the bacteria – and opting to build sandcastles instead of swimming isn’t without its own risk of exposure. Indeed, the odds of being attacked by a shark are less than 1 in 3 million, but on average, 1 in 28 beach-goers will suffer the effects of E. coli-related illness.
Swimming in contaminated water or digging in wet, contaminated sand may allow pathogens to enter your body through cuts or your nose, mouth and ears. Typically this will cause mild to moderate stomach disorders or minor infections to the exposed areas, but it is also possible in heavily polluted water or sand to contract more serious illnesses such as typhoid fever, hepatitis or dysentery.
We’re all familiar with news updates alerting the public of beach advisories and even closings resulting from various types of pollution. They are disconcerting and no one likes to be turned away from a day at the beach, but it is of some comfort knowing federal and state laws require mandatory monitoring of many of our beaches and waterways to protect the public. We should never ignore or minimize these warnings.
Beach and water contamination continues to be an issue in the U.S. and comes from a variety of causes such as polluted runoff and untreated sewage containing harmful microorganisms (pathogens) released directly into the water. This type of contamination is often nearby or even onsite of a particular beach or waterway and is fairly easy to monitor and measure. Another source of contamination, referred to as non-point pollution, happens when water from rain and melting snow runs off roofs and roads, picking up harmful chemicals, dirt and disease-carrying organisms that eventually make their way to beaches and other public swimming areas. This type of contamination is not only more difficult to prevent, but also to predict or measure and beach managers struggle with the accuracy and time limitations of current technology that requires direct water sampling and extra lab time when making the important decision to close a beach that may pose a risk to the public.
Technology is improving, however, and researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science have recently developed a new, more accurate method to identify harmful bacteria levels at recreational beaches using information about solar radiation, rainfall, tides and waves to predict harmful bacteria concentration and its movement along the shore. This method will improve detection accuracy and most importantly will reduce the time it takes to determine likely contamination by allowing beach managers access to a computer model that provides data-rich predictions of contamination well ahead of time, thus potentially cutting down incidents of exposure as well as clean-up time.
In addition to standard safety precautions regarding sun exposure, riptides and basic swimming safety, there are simple things we can do to minimize [...]
Summer Sun and Beach Fun Come With Some Risks… And It Isn’t All About the Sharks! is a post from: Well.org. Well.org designed and built by Colorado Local SEO marketing company 21st Century Technologies, Inc.Read more »