This vital survey will help the scientists assess the health risks that surfers, waveriders and ocean-goers might face by comparing the health of people who venture into the waves with those who stay firmly on dry land.
We are working with the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, a part of the University of Exeter Medical School to conduct the study, with the final phase starting on Monday 13th April. We 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.
This fresh call for participants comes hot on the heels of findings released at the start of the month, which showed that surfers and swimmers could be at risk of swallowing seawater containing bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
We are eager to hear from both water users and non-waters users, including those who took part in the study throughout 2014. Anyone aged over 18 in England or Wales* can participate – either online or using a smartphone.
The water quality at beaches across the UK has improved over recent years. Last year 99% of the 610 designated bathing beaches reached the 1976 mandatory European bathing water standards. However, this year these outdated water quality standards will be superseded by tougher standards in the revised Bathing Water Directive and approximately 10% of the UK’s bathing water are predicted to fail. Last year we issued 2,249 free, real-time pollution warnings relating to incidents at popular UK beaches via the Safer Seas Service. These pollution incidents are unlikely to captured in the weekly water quality tests.
The survey goes live on Monday 13th April and will be available for two weeks.
(* The survey is targeted at water users in England and Wales as Exeter Medical School have compared bathing water quality results with the health survey. England and Wales have a significantly longer bathing season and so test their bathing water quality over a longer period.)
Water quality at a single beach can vary enormously throughout the day, as well as at different points along its length. 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.
Andy Cummins, SAS Campaigns Director
With nearly 2,000 participants, we’ve had a fantastic response so far. But we need as many people as possible to take part and give us a clearer picture of the health risks people might face when visiting the beach. We’d really like to hear from those who took part in previous rounds of data collection, whether they’ve been to the beach recently or not.
Anne Leonard, PhD student at Exeter Medical School