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Title: Health effects of sea bathing (WMI 9021) - Phase III final report to the Department of the Environment
Author: E.B. Pike
Document Type: Monograph
This is the final report of the UK national study into the health effects of sea bathing. Two methods, tested and validated in pilot studies carried out in the summer of 1989, were used to establish the relationships, if any, between microbiological quality of coastal water and the risks to health of bathers. Research of this kind was recommended by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and commended by the House of Commons Select Committee on the Environment. It is relevant for the establishment of statutory water quality objectives for recreation by the Secretary of State, as proposed by the National Rivers Authority. Studies involving holidaymakers and adult volunteers were carried out at ten and four beaches respectively, using two complementary methods. Firstly a survey to determine symptoms reported by holidaymakers participating in various beach activities at beaches differing widely in water quality and secondly a controlled study using healthy adult volunteers divided into bathers and non bathers, whose health is ascertained by detailed questionnaire, medical interviews and clinical examination. This is the most comprehensive study into health effects of sea bathing carried out to date. Holidaymakers entering the sea perceived all symptoms more frequently than those who did not. These relative increases were related to degree of water contact and age, being greatest in surfers and divers and in 15-24 year-olds. Relative increases in frequencies of eye, ear nose and throat, respiratory and skin symptoms were not related to microbiological quality of the water Relative increases in diarrhoea in those entering the water were related to mean counts of total coliform bacteria and enteroviruses. In the volunteer study, the incidence in bathers of symptoms suggesting gastroenteritis was related to counts of faecal streptococci at chest depth. Overall, the conclusions from both types of study are in agreement with the results of earlier major studies of the effects of water quality on health of bathers, thereby adding to their plausibility and the likelihood that true causal relationships exist. However, the adult volunteer studies did not demonstrate a relationship between recording of symptoms and the results of clinical examinations, or between bathing and subjects seeking medical advice or losing days of normal activity. The effects observed can be regarded as symptomatic or perceived, rather than of overt illness.
Publisher: National Rivers Authority
Publication Date: 1994
Publication Place: Bristol
Subject Keywords: Water qualityHealthBathing Water DirectiveBathing waterCoastal watersSurveys
Geographic Keywords: Lyme RegisMorecambe BayCleethorpesSkegness
Extent: 138
Total file downloads: 292

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