Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers estimate polluted O.C. beaches cost public $3.3 million annually


Study will help policymakers consider cost-benefit of cleaning up polluted coastal waters

Analyzing data from two popular Orange County beaches, Newport and Huntington, researchers estimate that swimming in these coastal waters costs the public $3.3 million per year in health-related expenses. The calculation is based on lost wages and medical care to treat more than 74,000 incidents of stomach illness, respiratory disease and eye, ear and skin infections caused by exposure to the polluted waters in a typical year.

This is the first study to estimate the economic impact of illnesses associated with polluted recreational waters, although similar calculations have been done regarding air pollution. A public health cost assessment like this can be a useful tool for officials evaluating the cost-benefit of projects to treat sewage and urban runoff headed for local beaches.

“The ultimate value of this research is for policymakers, who are well aware of the substantial costs involved with cleaning up water pollution, but need to know the other side of the equation – the costs associated with not cleaning up the water,” said said lead author Ryan Dwight, who conducted the research at UC Irvine’s Department of Environmental Health, Science and Policy. This is the latest in a series of published studies by Dwight showing that urban runoff is the primary source of coastal water pollution in this area, and that surfers frequenting polluted urban coastal waters get sick more often than surfers in rural areas. The findings are reported in the online version of the Journal of Environmental Management.

The estimated cost, which the researchers describe as conservative, includes lost income based on typical Orange County salaries and medical expenses based on doctors’ fees, and assumes that the illnesses take on various levels of severity. Additional costs for self-treatment (such as purchasing over-the-counter medicine) and potential costs to the local tourism industry, the health care system and society at large are not included in the valuation.

“This estimate helps us begin to understand the bigger picture of the economic burden imposed on society from polluting our coastal recreational waters,” explained UC Riverside economist Linda Fernandez, co-author of the study.

The researchers emphasize the need for more studies to fully understand the economic impact of coastal water pollution, as it affects tourism, recreational values and other related factors.

The O.C. beaches used in the study receive pollution primarily from treated sewage discharged offshore, and untreated urban runoff which flows directly onto the beaches. During the time of the study, both beaches had water quality well within accepted levels, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of California. In fact, researchers estimate that if bacteria levels in these coastal waters were exactly at accepted levels, the total health cost would be greater than $7 million per year.

Study co-authors also include Dr. Dean Baker and Betty Olson at UCI, and Jan Semenza at Portland State University.

About the University of California, Irvine: Celebrating 40 years of innovation, the University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,400 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.

Christine Byrd | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Earlier flowering of modern winter wheat cultivars

20.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Smithsonian researchers name new ocean zone: The rariphotic

20.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs

20.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>