Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fecal Matters: Health Risks After Heavy Rainfall

BEACH Program Update

This summer in Washington we experienced record breaking temperatures and days without rain. Hot and dry weather makes for perfect beach days, but the rainy season is upon us. After a heavy rainfall, bacteria levels in the water could potentially rise. When the sun returns and beachgoers flock back to the beach, be aware of the potential health risks associated with large rains.

Water from heavy rainfall runs off the land and into nearby lakes, rivers, and saltwater beaches. This runoff can carry pollutants like fecal bacteria. Waste from pets and wildlife can easily be washed downstream. Heavy rains can also cause sewage systems to overflow and discharge untreated sewage into nearby water bodies. 

Protect yourself and your family from getting sick by reducing contact with fresh or marine water after a heavy rain. Avoid water recreation for 24 hours after heavy rainfall, especially in areas where you see pipes or streams that drain directly to the beach. 

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses. 

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

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