American Elephants

Mockery is Probably the Best Response: by The Elephant's Child

Never fear, parents who fear for the safety of your children, The federal government, as represented by the fearless EPA is on the job.  They are working on new regulations about digging in the sand, building sandcastles, or burying body parts.

People usually take sunscreen when they go the beach, they stay away from big waves if they are not strong swimmers, but beach sand could contain more harmful bacteria than the beach water. EPA researchers and their counterparts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and John Hopkins University found a positive relationship between sand exposure and gastrointestinal illnesses as a function of fecal microbial pollution in beach sand.

They collected 144 samples of wet sand from Fairhope Municipal Park Beach in Fairhope, Alabama and Goddard Memorial State Park Beach in Warwick RI. They asked 4,999 people who visited these beaches about their contact with wet sand. Both beaches are located less than 2 miles from an outflow from a publicly owned waste treatment-works outfall. Two weeks later they called participants and asked about any diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and/or stomach ache that members of the household might have experienced. They also asked about any other activities since the initial interview, even including raw or undercooked foods. No sandcastles.

Los Angeles County has banned Frisbees, footballs, and any other object to cast, toss, throw, kick, or roll, except a beach ball or volleyball — upon or over any beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The Board of Supervisors this week agreed to raise fines to up to $1,000 for anyone who throws a football or a Frisbee on any beach in Los Angeles County.

In passing the 37-page [!!!] ordinance on Tuesday, officials sought to outline responsibilities for law enforcement and other public agencies while also providing clarification on beach-goer activities that could potentially disrupt or even injure the public.

Also forbidden is the ability of little kids to dig any hole deeper than 18 inches in the sand, so leave those little shovels and buckets at home. But now that beach volleyball is an Olympic sport, there are some limits.

There was some controversy here in Seattle about banning bonfires on the beaches. Seattle Parks and Recreation received this memo from staff:

The overall policy question for the Board is whether it is good policy for Seattle Parks to continue public beach fires when the carbon … emissions produced by thousands of beach fires per year contributes to global warming.

As far as I know, that one succumbed to public laughter; but you never know, there are a lot of loons here.

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Out of context: the EPA simply was reporting on some useful — yes, useful — research. The conclusion of one of the EPA authors of the article is hardly radical:

“We have known for some time that swimming in fecally contaminated water is a risk factor for gastrointestinal symptoms, but this is the first analysis to link these symptoms to measures of fecal contamination in sand,” said EPA Environmental Public Health Division (EPHD) Epidemiology Branch Chief Timothy Wade Ph.D., senior author of the study. “The symptoms we observed are usually mild and should not deter people from enjoying the beach, but they should consider washing their hands or using a hand sanitizer after playing in the sand or water.”

As an avid Frisbee player, I am disappointed that throwing it is banned from beaches. However, I know that Frisbees can break adult noses (I have seen it twice) and I have seen people running after Frisbees without paying attention to the supine people and infants in their midst. I suppose that one can say: “Prosecute only when harm is done”, but I can also imagine enough locals (especially young mothers) who are afraid of missiles hitting them or their children getting fed up of feeling pushed off the beach by energetic football or Frisbee players that they would push to have such activities banned.

Do you criticize restaurants, grocery stores and hospitals for banning dogs on the grounds that the owners of those dogs should only be prosecuted if somebody finds a dog hair in their soup and proves it came from a particular dog?

As for Seattle considering banning bonfires on the beaches, it is unfortunate that they linked the ban to CO2 emissions, which should not be an issue when burning wood. I also don’t know how big your city’s beach bonfires were getting. In Cape Cod National Seashore, beach fires are only allowed with a permit. Among other things, the officials are worried about people using lumber studded with nails that do not completely combust and are left behind where some poor bare-fotted soul — or, should I say, sole — can step on it.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

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