Assessment of Enterococcus Levels in Recreational Beach Sand Along the Rhode Island Coast
Recent studies have shown that coastal beach sand as well as coastal ocean water can be contaminated with fecal indicator Enterococcus bacteria (ENT). A study of sand ENT concentrations over a four-week period at 12 Rhode Island beaches was conducted during the summer of 2009. While average contamination was low relative to water quality standards, every beach had at least one day with very high sand ENT readings. On 10 of the 12 beaches, a statistically significant gradient occurred in geometric mean ENT concentrations among tidal zones, with dry (supratidal, or above high tide mark) sand having the highest level, followed by wet (intratidal, or below high tide mark) and underwater sand. Beaches with higher wave action had significantly lower ENT levels in wet and underwater sand compared to beaches with lower wave action.
Speaker / Author:
Eugenie Coakley, MA, MPH
Amie L. Parris
Gretchen Latowsky, MEd