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Beach pollution is worst during new and full moon

f 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."


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Source:American Chemical Society


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