Last Updated 03 Aug 2020

Beach water

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The beaches are considered as important recreational resources. The recreational activities performed at beaches involve a physical contact with water, such as sail-boarding and swimming. There is always a risk of having an accidental injury but apart from that people also face major health problems because of the contamination the beach water. The biggest concern is the microbial contamination by microorganisms such as protozoa viruses and bacteria. The extremely dangerous sewage that comes from urban areas has a number of disease causing organisms in it.

Storm drains also contribute to microbial contamination because they sometimes bring the pet waste with them and deposit it into the beaches. Humans are exposed to bacteria and dangerous viruses through the ingestion of the contaminated water which occurs through the entry of water from nose, eyes or ears. Some types of illnesses that are associated with the contamination of the water are some respiratory illnesses that are caused by the entry of contaminated water into the lungs and Gastro-intestinal disorders; caused by the entry of contaminated water into stomach.

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There are also some infection associated with the beach water contamination which are minor and are caused through the contact of contaminated water with eyes, nose and ears. Fecal Coli-form bacteria are found in the intestinal tracts of animals and are passed out of the body through fecal waste. Fecal waste is present in the sewage and when that poorly treated sewage is drained into the beaches, it contaminates the water. Swimming in the water in which coli-form bacteria is already present, increases the chances for human to develop certain illnesses such as nausea, stomach cramps, hepatitis and typhoid fever.

One way to fight with the fecal coli-form bacteria is to wash with soap after swimming in the contaminated water. In order to save people from the contaminated water there was a treaty signed by the United States and Canada, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. It argues that "recreational waters should be substantially free from bacteria, fungi, and viruses that may produce enteric disorders or eye, ear, nose, throat and skin infections or other human diseases and infections" (EPA, Para. 5). To prevent the recreational water from being contaminated, there are many water quality control programs conducted in every state.

Microbial standard exceedances are used to measure the risks associated with the contaminated recreational water but “due to the limitations in frequency comparison of exceedances it’s been a challenge to evaluate the recreational water quality” (EPA, Para. 9). (NRDC) National Resources Defense Council’s watch dog monitors the quality of beach water and warns the authorities to take actions. “NRDC identified 131 beaches in 23 states that violated public health standards” (NRDC, Para. 4). The most important challenge that we face is that the water quality standards recommended by EPA are said to be 20 years old.

They do not meet today’s health standards because there are many other diseases identified now. There is an annual report by NRDC's annual watchdog, “Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches," which has called for several improvements in monitoring beach water” (NRDC, Para. 3). Improvement in the treatment of sewage also will help in avoiding the health risks. Environmental Protection Agency, retrieved on 08/22/08 from http://www. great-lakes. net/humanhealth/other/bacteria. html National Resources Defense Council, retrieved on 08/22/08 from http://www. nrdc. org/water/oceans/nttw. asp? gclid=CIer1c-KpJUCFROA1QodGBoJjw

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