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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Add another thing to worry about when you head out to the beach. No, it’s not the sun. It’s the sand.

A new study from the EPA suggests that playing in beach sand could lead to some unwanted symptoms, like diarrhea and vomiting.

There’s nothing like spending a day at the beach — the sun , the water, the sand and…. the toilet?

According to a new study by the Environmental Protection Agency, playing or digging in the sand can put you at risk of illnesses like diarrhea and nausea.

“I never thought about the sand before,” Julian Mealy said.

Mealy loves coming to the beach, but he admits he never considered what may be in the sand before hearing about the EPA’s new findings.

Researchers tested more than 140 samples of wet sand from two beaches looking for bacteria indicators of fecal contamination. They also interviewed nearly 5,000 visitors to those beaches asking them about their contact with the sand, swimming habits and other beach activities. Two weeks later researchers contacted beachgoers again and asked about any diarrhea, vomiting, nausea or stomach pain since their beach visit.

Researchers concluded that digging and playing in contaminated beach sand puts people at higher risk of getting sick than swimming or tanning.

Mealy says he’s never gotten sick from a day at the beach.

“No, I haven’t, but my wife came out Saturday, and she’s home right now suffering,” he said.

Mealy says his wife was picking up sea shells.

But while some may think the study may be on to something, others say they are not worried about the reported risks.

“We don’t need the government to tell us everything and every little thing,” beach visitor Sterling Jernigan. “We can protect ourselves to, we have common sense.”

Speaking of common sense, the EPA suggests beach goers wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after playing in the sand or water.

Despite some of the researchers being from UNC Chapel Hill, the beaches involved in the study are in Alabama and Rhode Island.

As for our area beaches, towns like Wrightsville Beach only test the water for bacteria.

We talked to one researcher involved in the study by phone. He said another study may soon take place and will focus on North Carolina beaches.

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11 Comments on "Your day at the beach could lead to a night in the bathroom"

2015 years 10 months ago

I always go #2 in the ocean. I thought everybody did?

2015 years 10 months ago


2015 years 10 months ago

new regulations for playing in the sand. When will it ever stop?!

2015 years 10 months ago

our County Commissioners will require the building of taxpayer-funded hand wash stations at all area beaches. After all…they know what’s best for us and aren’t afraid of spending our money to show us.

2015 years 10 months ago

What if its really wastes from sharks, fishes jelly fish all those living things in the sea gets in to the water then washes up to the beach. HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF THIS???? Think twice before you really put it on news and public to read and since yall did its too late!!!!!
dumbass epa like always and epa really screws up since yall are from the govt!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2015 years 10 months ago

full of seagulls, full of fish sharks whales jellyfishes etc in the sea produces these things can they???? not from humans!!! thought of that as well?????????

morning fun
2015 years 10 months ago

a ederly couple is walking the beach

honey! you sick

you too!

couple runs to beach house

mr.mealy will recieve verbal diarrhea from his wife for his comments…lol

2015 years 10 months ago

Why is this news? Who didn’t already know this?

2015 years 10 months ago

The question is what is the water bacterial level at those beaches. I can see that a beach that has a high ‘typical’ bacterial level in the water it would be worse to be playing in the sand. If there isn’t a water bacteria problem then nothing in this report indicates there still may be a sand problem.

2015 years 10 months ago

Well now Wrightsville Beach has another rule to add:

1-No Parking.

2-No cruising the Loop.

3-No Smoking on the Beach.

4-No playing in the Sand.
I’m sure there are more that I could have added. But I’m sure you get the point.

2015 years 10 months ago

Couldn’t you have performed a more in depth bacterial risk comparison of the beach vs. public restrooms, or the beach vs. coliform bacteria on shopping cart handles, maybe the beach vs. bacterial growth on seedy motel bed linens?

You DO understand that the beach is a natural environment with live animals that inhabit the sky, the water and the sand? All of these animals eat, drink, and expel wastes. Then they die and are naturally recycled. Go pull some shore mud samples from any lake or pond and report what you find there as well.

There simply isn’t a cognizant reason to report something of this magnitude regarding a popular natural environment that people have enjoyed since the beginning of our existence. If I didn’t know any better, I would think your news station was based in Asheville and gunning for more tourists to come there.

Over the years, I’ve really enjoyed most of WWAY’s reporting, but sometimes, you DO seem to scrape the bottom of the barrel in your struggle to publish headlines and paragraphs!


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