Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Estimate Polluted O.C. Beaches Cost Public $3.3 Million Annually

Date:
May 31, 2005
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
Analyzing data from two popular Orange County beaches, Newport and Huntington, researchers estimate that swimming in these coastal waters costs the public $3.3 million per year in health-related expenses. The calculation is based on lost wages and medical care to treat more than 74,000 incidents of stomach illness, respiratory disease and eye, ear and skin infections caused by exposure to the polluted waters in a typical year.

Analyzing data from two popular Orange County beaches, Newport and Huntington, researchers estimate that swimming in these coastal waters costs the public $3.3 million per year in health-related expenses. The calculation is based on lost wages and medical care to treat more than 74,000 incidents of stomach illness, respiratory disease and eye, ear and skin infections caused by exposure to the polluted waters in a typical year.

This is the first study to estimate the economic impact of illnesses associated with polluted recreational waters, although similar calculations have been done regarding air pollution. A public health cost assessment like this can be a useful tool for officials evaluating the cost-benefit of projects to treat sewage and urban runoff headed for local beaches.

“The ultimate value of this research is for policymakers, who are well aware of the substantial costs involved with cleaning up water pollution, but need to know the other side of the equation – the costs associated with not cleaning up the water,” said lead author Ryan Dwight, who conducted the research at UC Irvine's Department of Environmental Health, Science and Policy. This is the latest in a series of published studies by Dwight showing that urban runoff is the primary source of coastal water pollution in this area, and that surfers frequenting polluted urban coastal waters get sick more often than surfers in rural areas.

The findings are reported in the online version of the Journal of Environmental Management.

The estimated cost, which the researchers describe as conservative, includes lost income based on typical Orange County salaries and medical expenses based on doctors’ fees, and assumes that the illnesses take on various levels of severity. Additional costs for self-treatment (such as purchasing over-the-counter medicine) and potential costs to the local tourism industry, the health care system and society at large are not included in the valuation.

“This estimate helps us begin to understand the bigger picture of the economic burden imposed on society from polluting our coastal recreational waters,” explained UC Riverside economist Linda Fernandez, co-author of the study.

The researchers emphasize the need for more studies to fully understand the economic impact of coastal water pollution, as it affects tourism, recreational values and other related factors.

The O.C. beaches used in the study receive pollution primarily from treated sewage discharged offshore, and untreated urban runoff which flows directly onto the beaches. During the time of the study, both beaches had water quality well within accepted levels, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of California. In fact, researchers estimate that if bacteria levels in these coastal waters were exactly at accepted levels, the total health cost would be greater than $7 million per year.

Study co-authors also include Dr. Dean Baker and Betty Olson at UCI, and Jan Semenza at Portland State University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "Researchers Estimate Polluted O.C. Beaches Cost Public $3.3 Million Annually." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050531111747.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2005, May 31). Researchers Estimate Polluted O.C. Beaches Cost Public $3.3 Million Annually. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050531111747.htm
University of California - Irvine. "Researchers Estimate Polluted O.C. Beaches Cost Public $3.3 Million Annually." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050531111747.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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