Where does beach contamination come from? A look inside the Public Health Lab

Eureka, Ca., (KIEM)- Microbiologists are working with cutting edge technology to identify the source of ocean water contamination at Clam Beach.

Samples are collected regularly, and bacterial analysis begins. In the lab, scientists can then identify DNA markers in the bacteria that tell them a lot about sourcing. Public Health Laboratory Manager Jeremy Corrigan is one such scientist, and he explains how the lab has worked to pinpoint where fecal bacteria in beach water is coming from.

In three years, the lab as has analyzed more than than 140 samples. The largest source of coliform bacteria found in those Clam Beach samples, comes from bird feces. The lab also tests for dog, cow and deer, and human DNA.

So, should you be concerned about fecal bacteria in taking your family to the beach. Corrigan says, “My hope is that we can show our community that some of this is just naturally occurring.” He also explains that each water sample can often be unique to that moment in time.