Engineers at Stanford have been combing West Coast beaches to show how beach sand is just as capable of passing along harmful bacteria as ocean water.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, found that sand at beaches all along the California coast contained some level of fecal indicator bacteria -- 91 percent of the beaches in the study had detectable levels of enterococci and that 62 percent of them had traces of E. coli. Contaminated beach sands can act as bacteria sources and polluted sand is probably going to act as a source of fecal indicator bacteria to coastal waters-and will impact beach closures and advisories, explained Boehm.
Only rarely in my life have I frequented beaches without some kind of buffer between my body and the sand. Usually towels, but sometimes just coolers or paper bags lined up together--anything! One must protect one's self from the microbial buried treasures of the loitering masses, right? I mean, the things we've all seen go down at beaches...I'm thinking in particular of San Diego's famed "Dog Beach." Just a complete free-for-all.