Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flawed Sampling, Not Just Pollution, May Be Responsible For Beach Closings

Date:
August 16, 2002
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
The surf may be up at California's Huntington Beach, but pollution levels are down. A study by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, suggests the recent rash of beach closures in California and across the country could be partially due to flawed sampling techniques.

The surf may be up at California's Huntington Beach, but pollution levels are down. A study by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, suggests the recent rash of beach closures in California and across the country could be partially due to flawed sampling techniques.

Related Articles


The findings are reported in the Aug. 14 Web edition of Environmental Science and Technology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Using a 43-year history of data and several high-frequency sampling surveys, the researchers studied the surf water quality at Huntington Beach, Calif., immortalized as "Surf City" in the 1960s hit song by the group Jan and Dean. The beach made national headlines in the summer of 1999 when a large section was closed to the public, hurting the local economy and drawing attention to beach water quality around the country.

The researchers found that coastal water quality is controlled by an intricate relationship among a number of physical and biological factors, such as tidal cycles, seasonal rainfall and El Nino events. This complexity makes beach water monitoring difficult, and it raises questions about existing monitoring programs across the country.

A July report by the National Resources Defense Council found that there were 19 percent more beach closures and advisories in 2001 than in the previous year, which the group attributed to increased monitoring and better testing standards for bacteria and other pathogens.

Most of the closings were triggered by a single "grab" sample, according to Stanley Grant, Ph.D., professor of environmental engineering at the University of California, Irvine, and an author of the paper. Because water quality changes so rapidly, an effective single-sample program would require minute-by-minute updates. "You'd have to have a stop light up on the beach flashing green and red," he said. "It flashes red and everybody would have to run out of the surf; it flashes green and everybody could run back in." Grant favors the use of an averaging method, similar to that used to determine unsafe air quality in urban areas.

The high number of closings based on the single-sample method has prompted public concern about water quality at America's beaches. At Huntington Beach, however, the researchers found that the water quality has been improving over time in response to large-scale investment in waste treatment and disposal in the region.

"I think there's actually a positive environmental message here," Grant said. "There's been a lot of money spent over the years on mitigation and we can clearly see the impacts of that."

In October 2000, Congress passed the federal BEACH act, which is designed to ensure consistent national health standards for beach water by 2004. States will have to meet Environmental Protection Agency standards to receive federal funding for the monitoring programs.

The EPA has not issued final rules for implementing the BEACH act, and Grant is concerned that the bill could turn the single-sample standard into law. Current EPA guidelines do include an averaging method, but local authorities are far from consistent in their sampling strategies, according to the NRDC report.

Other research by Grant and his team also goes against conventional wisdom about coastal water pollution. In the June 15, 2001, issue of Environmental Science and Technology, they published a paper uncovering evidence that bird droppings in a nearby wetland contributed fecal matter to Huntington Beach, raising the levels of hazardous bacteria in the water. Those findings contradict a longstanding belief that wetlands filter out pollutants. The researchers recently received a grant to continue this investigation by studying other wetlands on the California coast.

The current project was supported by the National Water Research Institute and matching funds from cities in the region.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Flawed Sampling, Not Just Pollution, May Be Responsible For Beach Closings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020816072327.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2002, August 16). Flawed Sampling, Not Just Pollution, May Be Responsible For Beach Closings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020816072327.htm
American Chemical Society. "Flawed Sampling, Not Just Pollution, May Be Responsible For Beach Closings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020816072327.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins