A recent health study has determined that Californians in the Southern part of the state, including San Diego are breathing in the fumes of the sewerage from Mexico.
According to a study from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego, the raw sewerage from Mexico travels along the Tijuana River and out into the Pacific Ocean. Since December 13 billion gallons of sewage-polluted waters have flowed out into the ocean.
Scripps said in a release:
“This input of contaminated water has caused chronic coastal water pollution in Imperial Beach for decades. New research shows that sewage-polluted coastal waters transfer to the atmosphere in sea spray aerosol formed by breaking waves and bursting bubbles.”
“Sea spray aerosol contains bacteria, viruses, and chemical compounds from the seawater.”
“This research demonstrates that coastal communities are exposed to coastal water pollution even without entering polluted waters.”
“More research is necessary to determine the level of risk posed to the public by aerosolized coastal water pollution. These findings provide further justification for prioritizing cleaning up coastal waters.”
Lead researcher Kim Prather said:
“We’ve shown that up to three-quarters of the bacteria that you breathe in at Imperial Beach are coming from aerosolization of raw sewage in the surf zone.”
“Coastal water pollution has been traditionally considered just a waterborne problem. People worry about swimming and surfing in it, but not about breathing it in, even though the aerosols can travel long distances and expose many more people than those just at the beach or in the water.”
“The bottom line is we don’t know what sort of the effect is yet of inhaling this sort of cocktail that comes out of the ocean. We want to understand. We are doing further work. We’re really ramping up to understand the conditions that lead to this aerosolization.”
“This is not just a problem in Imperial Beach, it goes all up and down the West Coast.”
“The bottom line is we don’t know what the effect is yet of inhaling this cocktail that comes out of the ocean,. This is tip of the iceberg,” she said.
Robert Knight, a professor of pediatrics, computer science and engineering at UC San Diego said, “It was a complete shock to find how much of microbes in the air were traceable back to sewage. We had no idea that effect would be so strong.”
“Now that we know this is a real phenomenon, we need to find out what are the impacts to human health,” he said.