Navigation Links
Don't assume the sand is safe
Date:4/11/2012

CORAL GABLES, FL (April 11, 2012)--On warm days, the beach seems an ideal destination for family rest and relaxation. Who hasn't built a sand castle or been buried up to the neck in sand? However, that family fun has a dark side -- sand can harbor illness-causing microbes. Unfortunately, there are no guidelines for sand quality at recreational sites.

Now, environmental scientists at the University of Miami (UM) and at Northern Illinois University have created a reference guide for potentially harmful germs in sand, similar to the guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency for marine water. The report is published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.

"These values can be used by beach managers to make decisions concerning sand quality," says Helena Solo-Gabriele, professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the UM College of Engineering and principal investigator of this project. "That way, when regulators are faced with a decision about a potential health risk, there is a guideline available with which to decide whether or not the levels of microbes found in the sand are cause for concern."

Dogs, birds and cats visiting a beach are common sources of bacteria in the sand. "Exposures to high levels of certain microorganisms could cause gastrointestinal illness in humans, while infectious risks vary in different microorganism," says Tomoyuki Shibata, assistant professor in the Public Health Program and Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, & Energy, at Northern Illinois University and first author of the study.

The researchers wanted to determine what levels of bacteria, or pathogens, found in beach sand could pose a health risk for beachgoers, explains Solo-Gabriele, who is also Co-PI of the Oceans and Human Health Center at the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS).

"The environments in the sand and water are very different," said Solo-Gabriele. "The sand provides more protection against the effects of solar radiation, which has a tendency to inactivate microbes in water. Sand may also protect microbes from predators (other microbes) that are found exclusively in water."

To develop the guidelines, the scientists ran one million simulations of the number of microbes in each gram of sand, the transfer of sand from hand to mouth and the ingestion rate. The researchers determined the risk of having 19 cases per 1,000 beachgoers--the level used by the EPA for swimming in marine recreational waters.

The team also documented the levels of pathogens found in the sand at Hobie Cat Beach, in Miami. The findings indicate that levels of harmful microbes at the beach site were low, when compared to the reference levels and therefore safe for beachgoers.

However, studies have shown that children have a higher illness risk than adults from beach and sand exposures. For that reason, the researchers will now focus on studies of kids' play behavior in sand, to better estimate the acceptable levels of microbes that can cause diseases in children.

"Parents of young children don't need to overreact to our findings and they can reduce their child's infectious risk by basic hygiene practices such as hand washing before eating or drinking and taking a shower," said Shibata.
'/>"/>

Contact: Annette Gallagher
a.gallagher1@umiami.edu
305-284-1121
University of Miami
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Periodontitis and myocardial infarction: A shared genetic predisposition
2. Prevent periodontitis to reduce the risk of head and neck cancer
3. Periodontal stem cell transplantation shows promise
4. IADR/AADR publish study on obesity link to periodontitis
5. Potent greenhouse gas more prevalent in atmosphere than previously assumed
6. Climate change effect on release of CO2 from peat far greater than assumed
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/20/2016)... MINNEAPOLIS , May 20, 2016  VoiceIt ... technology partnership with VoicePass. By working ... user experience.  Because VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly ... two engines increases both security and usability. ... expressed excitement about this new partnership. ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... 9, 2016 Elevay is currently ... expanding freedom for high net worth professionals seeking travel ... globally connected world, there is still no substitute for ... duplicate sealing your deal with a firm handshake. This ... taking advantage of citizenship via investment programs like those ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... 28, 2016 First quarter 2016:   ... compared with the first quarter of 2015 The gross ... M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) ... Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/23/2016)... ... May 23, 2016 , ... Foresight Institute , a ... winners for the 2015 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes. , These prestigious prizes, ... one for experiment and the other for theory in nanotechnology. Prof. Markus J. ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... ... May 20, 2016 , ... The recent recall by Costco and Trader ... Safety News on May 12, 2016(1), demonstrates the need for faster and more cost ... biotech firm, PathSensors, Inc. , PathSensor’s latest solution uses a biosensor ...
(Date:5/19/2016)... , May 19, 2016 ... PINK: RGBP) and (OTC PINK: RGBPP) announced today initiation ... the first cord blood based cancer immunotherapeutic product ... patent application, Regen described a generation of cord ... potentiated by gene silencing.  The product in development ...
(Date:5/18/2016)... ... , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today announced that ... processing to help them save time and reduce errors. , Sexual Assault kits are ... and victims informed of results. Due to a previous lack of tools, many forensic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: