Analyzing Beach Sand Data

Dates: 2012-2015

State: Rhode Island

Client(s): Rhode Island Department of Health

Service: Applied Research & Evaluation

Technical Expertise: Environmental Health

Researchers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the University of North Carolina conducted a study of contact with beach sand in Fairhope, Alabama and Warwick, Rhode Island and reported a positive association between digging in sand and being buried in sand and the development of Gastrointestinal illnesses and diarrhea within two weeks of visiting the beaches.

The RI Department of Health hired JSI to conduct an analysis of beach sand data to find out if certain weather conditions such as water temperature, wind, high/low tide, existence of water-fowl, etc. affect bacteria levels in sand.

As part of the project JSI will characterize the RI Sand Study data from August 2009 by producing frequencies and means/medians for all variables in the dataset, and assess whether associations are observed between the level of bacteria and other factors included in the dataset (wind, water temp, high/low tide, water fowl, etc.) and sampling locations (wet, dry, underwater, stream, dry/wet pipe). Cross-tabulation tables will be generated to compare different levels or categories of the bacteria measurement by other observed variables.

Results of the analysis will be used to inform the RI Department of Health’s Beach Program to ensure that public health is protected from beach sand contamination.


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