It’s not just sewage that gets discharged into water that people use to surf, windsurf, kayak or simply bathe in.
Thousands of harmful toxic chemicals are each and everyday traversing their way through the pipes that lead from our sinks, showers and toilets into the sewage treatment works. Many though are unable to be treated there and instead continue on their journey to the outfall pipe.
Once here they can behave in a number of ways but undoubtedly the most concerning are the chemicals considered as ‘gender benders’ or to put it more scientifically those capable of endocrine disrupting. These tamper with the hormones of wildlife, are bio-accumulative in that they move up the food chain and are partly responsible for the feminisation of as many as a 1/3rd of male fish in UK rivers (report by the Environment Agency). Whilst SAS is exploring the potential for exposure to such chemicals direct to recreational water users there are easier ways to reduce these chemicals impact on the water environment. The majority of these harmful chemicals are found in everyday household cleaning products. Shampoos, skin care creams, washing detergents and paints are man made chemical cocktail shakers. There are kinder, safer alternatives widely available and its is these that SAS consider as practical alternatives to what’s currently on offer and are urging consumers to give them a try and buy ‘green’. SAS is also calling on the mainstream corporate companies to adopt a precautionary approach and substitute ‘harmful’ chemicals for ‘kinder’ substitutes’. Part of this work is being carried out in our lobbying activities centred around proposed new legislation called REACH. This pending legislation could regulate the chemicals industry more tightly and see a phase out harmful chemicals to be replaced by safer alternatives.
On top of these chemical discharges there are consented discharges of radioactive waste that can turn even the most dedicated, die hard water user into a ‘shall I shant I go in’ procrastinator. Sandside Bay on the North coast of Scotland is a classic example of this problem. Sitting in the shadow of Dounreay Nuclear re-processing plant it has recently been at the heart of an investigation into the finding of thumb sized radioactive particles on the adjacent beach. Sign posts have gone up warning people that they use the water at their own risk. Water pollution is associated with this type of energy and SAS believes there are kinder, safer sources of energy that can be used that dont put the water and the recreational water user at risk such as offshore renewable energy production.