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Beach Monitoring

Sewage and urban runoff can reach the coastline in crowded urban areas. To protect the health of swimmers from fecal contamination at beaches, public health officials routinely monitor the coastal waters for indicator organisms bacteria, such as fecal Coliform and Enterococcus. These organisms are naturally found in the intestines of warm blooded organisms, and so when they are detected in beach water it means that there is probably fecal contamination. While the indicators used to monitor beaches are bacteria, the actual disease causing organisms (called "pathogens") are often viruses or even parasites.

In this assignment, you are an environmental health inspector charged with the responsibility to sample beach water, after a storm, to inform the public, and particularly surfers. Also, you will need to make decisions about whether to close the beach or not. Write a 2 page paper in which you do the following:

1. Describe the types of illnesses that can be caused by contaminated recreational beach waters.

2. Identify the challenges in monitoring and managing beach waters to protect the public, and particularly surfers, in a timely manner (hint: discuss the timeliness of water test results).

3. Describe the types of warning information that you would make available to the public regarding the safety of swimming at the beach. Base your answer on the general practices of public health departments.

Please be sure to justify your opinion with evidence AND SOURCES

Solution Preview

Monitoring Beaches

A beach is a part of a watershed. A watershed is an area is which water, sediments, and dissolved materials drain to a common outlet, such as a river, lake, bay, or ocean. Activities in a watershed have a direct effect on beaches. Beaches end up with the disease causing microorganisms (pathogens) from storms, sewage overflows, sewage treatment plant malfunctions, failing septic systems.

Human health problems develop from waters contaminated with pathogens. Surfers, swimmers, or even sitting in the water are means of ingestion. Some of the Human health problems are sore throat, gastroenteritis, meningitis or encephalitis (EPA, 2005).

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a science organization that provides impartial information on the health of our ...

Solution Summary

Many activities in a watershed affect the water quality of our beaches. A description of illnesses caused by contaminated recreational beach waters.. There are many challenges to monitoring beaches and informing the public of water contamination.