Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Beach pollution is worst during new and full moon

02.08.2005


A new study of 60 beaches in Southern California suggests that water pollution varies with the lunar cycle, reaching the highest levels when tides are ebbing during the new and full moon. The findings could help beachgoers and managers better assess the potential risk of swimming.



The report appears in the Aug. 1 issue of the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science & Technology. ACS is the world’s largest scientific society.

Coastal water quality is controlled by a number of complex physical and biological factors, including tidal cycles and seasonal rainfall. This complexity makes beach water monitoring difficult, with levels of bacteria in a certain area changing in just a few minutes.


For the new study, the researchers examined monitoring data compiled for beaches throughout Southern California, keeping track of tidal patterns and analyzing them for concentrations of enterococci -- bacteria that allow scientists to estimate the risk of illness from swimming in marine waters. "This is the largest array of beaches examined at the same time for a similar pattern," says Alexandria Boehm, Ph.D., an environmental engineer at Stanford University and lead author of the study.

She and her colleagues at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project found that in the full and new phases of the moon, levels of enterococci were higher at the vast majority of the beaches studied. Boehm found that during so-called "spring tides," when water levels vary the most between high and low tides, a beach is twice as likely to be out of compliance with water quality standards. Spring tides are exceptionally high or low tides that take place during the full and new moons, but have nothing to do with the season of the year.

The results are of immediate practical use to swimmers and beach managers alike, according to Boehm. "The general public can use the phase of the moon and the tide stage to assess the relative risk of illness," she says. "It is riskier to swim during spring-ebb tides [receding tide] compared to all other tidal conditions."

Beach managers can now use tides as they currently use rainfall to assess warnings, Boehm suggests. When it rains, managers recommend that swimmers not enter the water for three days. "They could also suggest that during spring tides -- and especially spring-ebb tides -- water quality is more likely to be impaired, and those who are risk-averse should avoid swimming," Boehm says.

The results might also help managers identify potential sources of pollution at beaches. "Most sources of enterococci at beaches are unknown," Boehm says. "Because we found tidal signals in enterococci densities at beaches with no obvious point source, like storm drains and creeks, this suggests that there is a widespread tidally forced source of enterococci at beaches."

Boehm suggests several candidates for this "mystery" source, including beach sands, decaying plant material and polluted groundwater. "Beach sands and wrack [piles of seaweed and animal remains that wash ashore] have been shown at freshwater beaches to harbor fecal indicator bacteria and even pathogenic bacteria," Boehm says. "Beach managers who want to improve water quality at their beaches should investigate the potential of these sources to be contributors of enterococci to marine waters."

Boehm cautions that enterococci from beach sands and wrack may not correlate with health risk the same way as enterococci from runoff or sewage. "We just don’t know for sure, since no one has done an epidemiological study to connect human illness to enterococci from non-point sources other than runoff," Boehm says. "We need to do additional work to understand the source of enterococci at all these beaches."

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.acs.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>