Climate Change Impacts on Microbiota in Beach Sand and Water: Looking Ahead

João Brandão, Chelsea Weiskerger, Elisabete Valério, Tarja Pitkänen, Päivi Meriläinen, Lindsay Avolio, Christopher D. Heaney, Michael J. Sadowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Beach sand and water have both shown relevance for human health and their microbiology have been the subjects of study for decades. Recently, the World Health Organization recommended that recreational beach sands be added to the matrices monitored for enterococci and Fungi. Global climate change is affecting beach microbial contamination, via changes to conditions like water temperature, sea level, precipitation, and waves. In addition, the world is changing, and humans travel and relocate, often carrying endemic allochthonous microbiota. Coastal areas are amongst the most frequent relocation choices, especially in regions where desertification is taking place. A warmer future will likely require looking beyond the use of traditional water quality indicators to protect human health, in order to guarantee that waterways are safe to use for bathing and recreation. Finally, since sand is a complex matrix, an alternative set of microbial standards is necessary to guarantee that the health of beach users is protected from both sand and water contaminants. We need to plan for the future safer use of beaches by adapting regulations to a climate-changing world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1444
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Bathing water
  • Beach sand
  • Climate change
  • FIB
  • Global warming
  • Recreational water
  • Sand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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