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Am J Public Health. 1979 Jul;69(7):690-6.

Relationship of microbial indicators to health effects at marine bathing beaches.


Findings are described from the second year of an epidemiological-microbiological study conducted at New York City beaches as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program to develop health effects-recreational water quality criteria. Symptomatology rates among swimmers (defined as immersion of the head in the water) relative to nonswimming but beach-going controls at a "barely acceptable" (BA) beach and a "relatively unpolluted" (RU) beach were examined. Data were collected by contacting family groups at the beach on weekends, obtaining information on bathing activity, and then questioning them by phone some 8--10 days later. In addition measurements were made for a number of potential water quality indicators. It was observed that the symptom rates, categorized as gastrointestinal (GI), respiratory, "other", and "disabling" (stayed home, stayed in bed, consulted a physician), were higher among swimmers than nonswimmers. As in the pretest conducted the previous year, the rate of GI symptoms was significantly higher among swimmers relative to nonswimmers at the BA but not the RU beach. Children, Hispanic Americans, and the low-middle socioeconomic groups were identified as the most susceptible portions of the population.

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