Scientists warn that beach sand could be contaminated with fecal matter and that it poses even more danger that the water does.
A team of researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa have conducted a study on the level of fecal bacteria contamination of the sand and water from local beaches. Their study was funded by the Hawaii Department of Health and it was set to look closer into the dangers that come with going to the beach.
Their findings revealed that the sand is actually more heavily contaminated with fecal bacteria than the water is. There are numerous causes that lead to this unfortunate situation and they are extremely diverse. The fecal matter originates from humans and a wide variety of animal and bird species, ranging from water animals to the terrestrial fauna of the beaches.
Furthermore, due to rain storms and flooding on one and and sewage issues that lead to runoffs, contaminated water might be brought in and spread the contamination to the beaches. The researchers suggest that in this case of imported contamination, the sand gets more heavily infested with fecal bacteria due to the waves that continuously bring contaminated water to it.
Moreover, previous research has also pointed out that sand is more heavily contaminated than the water, in the event that the beach is exposed to sewage reflux. Now that there is significant evidence from University of Hawaii at Manoa to back it us, the authorities are surely going to take some measures in order to inform beachgoers of the impending danger.
Usually, when threatening levels of contamination are found in the water, there are “No Swimming” signs put alongside the beach. In the event that these signs are present, it seems that it is best to avoid the beach altogether, because the contaminants are bound to make it onto the sand and even in larger quantities it seems.
It remains to be seen what measures the authorities are going to take, but until then, there are some easy steps that could help people keep safe. Firstly, it is best that people avoid touching their faces and putting their hands in their mouths. Furthermore, it is crucial that they wash their hands with clean water and soap before eating or smoking on the beach.
Another important thing is taking a shower after leaving and to use antibacterial soap or bath gel, in order to clean away at least the largest part of the contaminants. Also, people should pay special attention to their fingernails, because sand gets under them and could stay there and so people get contaminated when they touch their food or when they touch their lips.
It is best to keep fingernails trimmed, but in the event that this is not an option, it is advisable that a small brush, antibacterial soap and clean water is used in order to clean them thoroughly on both sides.
So this year, before going to the beach, people are advised to do a bit of research into the matter of local contamination with fecal bacteria, so that they know whey they are better off steering clear of the beach.
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