Water quality still an issue

27th February, 2018

New research suggests that pollution is still an issue affecting swimmers in some of the world’s richest countries, including the UK.

This week, the BBC and The Guardian reported that people who swim or take part in water sports in the sea are more likely to experience stomach bugs, ear aches and other illness than those who do not. Of course, like those who leave the house are more likely to be hit by a bus, those of us who swim in the sea are more likely to sometimes be affected by the risks.

“We welcome any research that leads to increased quality of bathing water,” says OSS Director Kate Rew. “Regular and daily sea bathers are often parts of thriving local communities and get far more their swims than this reported increased occasional risk of infection. This can be all the fun and support that community provides, increased fitness, better circulation, improved mood, and anecdotally, less colds and help managing low moods.”

The research was led by the University of Exeter Medical School in collaboration with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. While the research teams were quick to explain that they didn’t want to deter people from going in the sea, they did want to make people aware of the risk.

For anyone who is concerned, risks can be reduced by washing hands after a swim, covering open wounds when swimming, swimming from Blue Flag beaches, keeping an eye on water quality via the Environment Agency website or Surfers Against Sewage map and being conscious that water quality is often reduced after heavy rainfall or stormy conditions.