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Summer reminder: It's not safe to swim at beaches up to 48 hours after rain

Wednesday, August 17th 2022, 4:00 pm - Bacteria following heavy rain presents health risks for beachgoers.

High humidity often follows summer storms - and for many, that's a clear signal to head to the beach.

While it's fine to load up on SPF and take in the scenery, swimming up to 48 hours after rainfall presents unique health risks.

Bacteria - from stormwater runoff, litter, and other debris - is often present in high levels in the hours following a storm. Even designated swim areas are vulnerable.

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Risk-assessment

"If you see lots of discolouration in the water, lots of leaves and plastic bottles floating around, then that's a pretty good indication that there's stormwater," Dr. Stuart Khan, a water quality expert at Australia's University of NSW, told ABC Radio Sydney in 2018.

"Where there's stormwater, there's bacteria. In other cases, stormwater can look fairly clean and still have a very high pathogen and bacteria load. I'd be looking at rainfall as my key indicator [for contamination] more so than trying to measure water quality directly."

There's no one-stop shop to check water quality at a given beach, as local municipalities set their guidelines. It's always best to check with the municipality you plan to visit ahead of time.

Experts recommend sticking to designated swim areas that are monitored and tested for water quality.

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Thumbnail: Custom image by Cheryl Santa Maria made using graphical elements from Canva Pro.

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