Author(s): Given S, Pendleton LH, Boehm AB
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Abstract We present estimates of annual public health impacts, both illnesses and cost of illness, attributable to excess gastrointestinal illnesses caused by swimming in contaminated coastal waters at beaches in southern California. Beach-specific enterococci densities are used as inputs to two epidemiological dose-response models to predict the risk of gastrointestinal illness at 28 beaches spanning 160 km of coastline in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. We use attendance data along with the health cost of gastrointestinal illness to estimate the number of illnesses among swimmers and their likely economic impact. We estimate that between 627,800 and 1,479,200 excess gastrointestinal illnesses occur at beaches in Los Angeles and Orange Counties each year. Using a conservative health cost of gastroenteritis, this corresponds to an annual economic loss of dollars 21 or dollars 51 million depending upon the underlying epidemiological model used (in year 2000 dollars). Results demonstrate that improving coastal water quality could result in a reduction of gastrointestinal illnesses locally and a concurrent savings in expenditures on related health care costs.
This article was published in Environ Sci Technol
and referenced in Journal of Coastal Zone Management