Specialist cleanup of sewage contamination from spills.
Following a particularly wet July, coupled with a series of thunderstorms, an estimated 54 beaches across the UK have been affected by sewage pollution. The plastic waste carried out of drains and sewers onto these beaches is not just an eyesore for beachgoers but also poses serious health risks, by becoming a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria and viruses.
In this blog, we explore the potential hazards associated with contaminated plastic waste and how beachgoers can help to protect themselves and the environment.
The heavy rainfall during July caused a substantial amount of plastic waste to be washed out of drains and sewers, which then found its way onto beaches during the storms. This plastic waste becomes a fertile breeding ground for bacteria, including dangerous pathogens like those responsible for gastroenteritis and hepatitis. With an estimated 11 billion single-use wet wipes used annually in the UK, ranking it as the third most common type of beach litter, the scale of the problem is staggering. Notably, around seven million wet wipes, 2.5 million tampons, and 1.5 million sanitary pads are flushed down toilets every day in the UK, further contributing to the issue.
It’s advisable for beach visitors to refrain from touching any plastic waste they encounter on the shore. If contact does occur, thorough handwashing and antibacterial hand sanitiser are essential safety measures, rather than simply rinsing hands in the sea. This simple precaution can significantly reduce the risk of contracting harmful illnesses from contaminated plastic waste.
The accumulation of plastic waste, including wet wipes, not only disrupts the beauty of beaches but also poses a significant threat to both beachgoers and wildlife. Wet wipes can harbour bacteria for extended periods, especially when found in high concentrations, further increasing the risk of health hazards. To protect the environment and wildlife, responsible waste management practices must be encouraged to curb the alarming trend of plastic waste on beaches.
At Rentokil Specialist Hygiene, we’re committed to collaborating closely with water companies and stakeholders to develop effective strategies for tackling plastic waste and sewage pollution. By raising awareness about the hazards and promoting responsible waste management practices, together, we can preserve our natural environments and protect public health.
As the final rays of summer sun draws families and tourists to UK beaches, staying vigilant about the risks posed by plastic waste becomes increasingly important. This timely warning sheds light on the serious health hazards lurking on our shores and calls for collective action to safeguard public health and preserve the beauty of our beaches.
With responsible waste management and increased awareness, we can make a positive impact on our environment and ensure safer, cleaner beach experiences for all. So, before you head to the beach please remember to be mindful of the potential plastic waste around you.