Sewage spills and overflows accounts for 1,600 closing and advisory for beaches after storm water, wild life and boats discharges.
With the current relocation of people in large masses to the coastal areas, there has been an increase in pollution of beach waters due to sewage contamination rendering the waters unsafe for recreational activities. There are pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and other parasites found in waste.
Contaminated recreational water poses a great health risks to the public and other consumers especially young children due to their playful nature and weak immune system.
One of the main water borne diseases surfers or beach water users can be contract from contaminated beach water is typhoid, results from by a bacterium called Salmonella.
Contaminated water is with human faecal is one major source of this bacterium. Shellfish growing in faecal polluted water can build the bacteria up for the. Common signs and symptom of a person suffering from typhoid include watery diarrhoea, malaise, fever, anorexia, headache constipation and dehydration. Another disease contracted from faecal polluted water is cholera.
This is acute water borne diseases caused by vibrio cholerae bacterium and can kill within a short period if untreated. WHO estimates that 120,000 people die from cholera each year? Acute watery diarrhoea and severe dehydration are some of the signs and symptoms.
The dysentery affects walls of the intestines and is brought about by an amoeba known as ‘Entamoeba histolytica’. A suffering from dysentery does not show symptoms for long period but it damage the intestinal walls of the infected causing bleeding.
Other signs of dysentery include cramps, frequent loose stool, and some cases difficulty in passing of stool, ulcers and diarrhoea, which may contain bloods spots due to damaged intestines. Other diseases contracted by contaminated water include hepatitis, anaemia, ascariasis and schistomiasis among many more others.
Finally, another threat posed to consumers of beach waters includes the red tide. Red tides are type of microscopic algae that are responsible for production of toxins in water. These toxins can lead to serious health problems to both humans and marine creatures. Abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea are the main symptoms displayed by a victim of red tide.
Amongst the challenges encountered in monitoring and managing beach water are the uses of inconsistent indicators by different states, which have resulted to disallowing use of recreational waters regarded as safe by other states, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1999).
Another challenge is that some tests involved requires a lot of time like 24 hours so as to produce results and rather issuing of warning, some beach operators opt to re-test the waters.
Such time taking tests have greatly hindered the issue of advisory and closure notices hence increasing consumer’s exposure risks levels. On the other hand, use of inconsistent monitoring and managing beach programs contradicts as officers in charge may hesitate to issue the advisories due to conflicting results as per different states.
As an environmental health inspector, I would engage in several steps to ensure the safety of swimmers and the general health. This would include issue of advisories such as when there have been heavy downpours, ensuring that beach water are regularly tested, in case of affirmative pollution results, inform the public of time so as to avoid contact with contaminated waters. In serious cases where there been high pollution levels, I would opt for closure to guarantee the safety of the public.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA). (1999). Action Plan for Beaches and Recreational Waters. Washington DC: Office of Water and Office of Research and Development Press.