It is an already knows fact that water at the seaside can be contaminated with feces, but a new research indicates that sand could be more worrying from this point of view. Thus building sand castles and playing volleyball can be more dangerous than swimming. The paper was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Scientists at the University of Hawaii at Manoa tried to identify the way in which bacteria and other fecal inhabitants which can cause disease can evolve over a period of time. It is called that they are studying the change of microbial communities in seawater and beach sand and the decay kinetics of wastewater bacteria. In order to observe these processes the researchers created laboratory microcosms of water contaminated with sewage and sands which were found at beaches.
Past researches indicate that beach sand is more contaminated with feces compared to the waters of the ocean. In this study researchers wanted to check whether this pattern changes over time.
The main purpose of the study was not to determine how fecal bacteria reach the waters. The Minnesota Lake Superior Costal Program explains that it is challenging to determine the exact process through which the water and sand gets contaminated with feces since the various elements of the environment such as weather patterns, water and wind are very complex.
However it seems that such bacteria comes from wildlife and domesticated animals and warm-blooded waterfowl. In addition water systems can get contaminated with fecal bacteria directly through deposition, incorrect disposal of waters, damage of sewage and food water contact.
The findings of the study indicate that compared to a water environment model the bacteria decompose more slowly in a beach sand environment model. This explains why the microbial groups are more often found on sand than in the waves of the sea.
The lead author of the study, Tao Yan, remarked:
“Beach sand needs to be considered carefully in assessing its impact on water quality monitoring and public health.”
If people want food which is contaminated with feces they may experience headache, abdominal pain, light fever, nausea, vomiting, weakness and diarrhea. However things can be more complicate if the person has a weakened immune system, is an older person or a child.
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