We are renewing an appeal for people to take part in research that will shed light on the health effects of marine pollution.
A team of scientists and researchers want to compare the health of people who venture into the waves with those who stay firmly on shore, to assess the impact on health from marine pollution. We are working with the University of Exeter Medical School to conduct the study, with the third phase starting on 10th November.
We are are asking adults living in England and Wales to respond to a short online survey, answering questions about their health, visits to the beach, and whether or not they’ve been in the sea. We are eager to hear from both water users and non-waters users (and even water users that haven’t been in the sea for a few weeks), including those who took part in the previous stages of the study in June and August. Anyone aged over 18 in England or Wales can participate – either online or using a smartphone.
Over recent years concern about the cleanliness of coastal water – and its possible adverse effects on health – has led to tighter regulation and monitoring of seawater at popular beaches. As a result, the water quality of beaches across the UK has improved, with 99% of the 608 designated bathing beaches meeting the 1976 mandatory European bathing water standards during the 2013 bathing season. These standards are soon to be superseded by tougher, more appropriate standards.
However, during the 2014 bathing season our Safer Seas Service has warned the public about 1,500 short term pollution incidents on English and Welsh beaches – episodes that current water quality tests are unlikely to capture.
The survey goes live on Monday 10th November and will be available for two weeks. Those who participated in the previous rounds of data collection are encouraged to respond again.
The recent sewage spills at some of Cornwall’s most popular beaches have highlighted the importance of water quality and monitoring. It’s vital we establish a more detailed understanding of how marine pollution is affecting the health of recreational water users, so that everyone can make the most of this fantastic natural resource.
Surfers Against Sewage Campaign Director, Andy Cummins
We want to understand the risk of illness people face when they visit the beach. The first two rounds of data collection conducted in the summer were very successful, and now we want to understand the risk of illness people face when they visit the beach outside the bathing season. We need as many people as possible to take part – including those who have not been in the sea recently. A large number of people taking part in the study will allow us to be much more confident in our findings.
PhD student, Anne Leonard, is leading the project
We know that water quality at a single beach can vary enormously throughout the day and at different points along its length. By comparing the health of those who’ve been in the sea with those who haven’t, we’re hoping to gain an insight into the risks of coastal bathing, and an understanding of whether this risk is reduced at beaches that are classified as safe by the current monitoring procedure.
The project’s senior researcher, Dr William Gaze