The hazards of beach water pollution for human health
According to research on environment and human health, the major hazards from beach water pollution for human health are diseases caused by skin contact and pathogenic microorganisms entering through the mouth. The main sources of microorganisms polluting beach water quality include garbage and water pollution on the ground after heavy rains, fecal contamination and pollution of drainage overflow. Therefore, the beach water quality will worsen after typhoons or rainstorms, when it is not recommended for people to enter the water. Because there are many species of pathogenic microorganisms, it is not easy to monitor and stipulate related laws and regulations. Taking European countries, the U.S. and other advanced countries as references, they all have clear standards for a beach water “microbial pollution index”, on which Taiwan could model monitoring and sampling references, and be regularly monitored and announced during swimming season to protect human health and safety.
Beach Water Microbial Pollution Index
Coliform group and enterococci are common indicators for beach water microbial pollution, used for example in the US and Hong Kong. In general, these bacteria themselves cause no harm to the human body. However, because these microorganisms mainly parasitize animals’ intestines and rarely exist in the natural environment, if a large number of these microorganisms is detected in the water, it indicates that the water is most likely polluted by feces, garbage or sewage and may contain other pathogenic microorganisms harmful to human health. These pathogenic microorganisms might cause allergies and conjunctivitis through contact with skin or the cornea, result in symptoms like gastroenteritis, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or nausea, and even endanger life. As indicator microorganisms, they can survive longer in the natural environment than pathogenic microorganisms. As a result, when the amount of indicator microorganisms is small, it generally means that the amount of other pathogenic microorganisms is even smaller, thus the health risk is relatively small. The Environmental Protection Administration of the Executive Yuan reminds the public that it is still risky to engage in water activities even when water conditions are fair. Please pay attention to your personal safety and health. Anyone not feeling well after water activities should consult a doctor immediately.