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THE EVOLUTION OF WATER QUALITY IN THE UNITED STATES - 1922-2003
DUFOUR, A. P. AND S. SCHAUB. THE EVOLUTION OF WATER QUALITY IN THE UNITED STATES - 1922-2003. Chapter 1, L. J. Wymer (ed.), Statistical Framework for Recreational Water Quality Criteria and Monitoring. John Wiley and Sons, LTD, , Uk, , 1-12, (2007).
The objectives of this research are: (1) to evaluate rapid state-of-the-art measuement methods of pathogens that may indicate the presence of fecal pollution in recreational waters (beaches); (2) to obtain, jointly with a sister laboratory (NHEERL), a new set of water quality data and related health effects data at a variety of beaches across the U.S., in both marine and non-marine waters; (3) to analyze the research data set to evaluate the utility of the tested measurement methods, the new EMPACT monitoring protocol, and the health effects data / questionnaire, in order to establish a relationship between measured pathogens and observed health effects; and (4) to communicate the results to the Office of Water in support of their efforts to develop new state and/or federal guidelines and limits for water quality indicators of fecal contamination, so that beach managers and public health officials can alert the public about the potential health hazards before exposure to unsafe water can occur.
The microbiological quality of recreational waters was first discussed in the United States as early as 1922 by the American Public Health Association's Committee on Bathing Beaches (APHA,1922) . The Committee surveyed 2000 physicians and state health officials inquiring about the prevalence of infections associated with bathing places. The Committee Report in 1924 (APHA,1924) reviewed the survey results and concluded that there was not enough evidence to develop bathing water standards for natural waters. In June, 1933 the Joint Committee on Bathing Places was formed and in their first report noted that because of the great lack of epidemiological information no bacterial standards were adopted (APHA, 1933). They also stated that the Committee did not want to propose arbitrary standards or measures that might promote public hysteria about the dangers of outdoor bathing places. The Committee, in 1936, was still not convinced that bathing places were a major health problem and re-stated their position on developing bacterial standards for bathing places. The reluctance to propose bacterial standards for outdoor bathing places was again evident in 1936, 1940 and 1955 (APHA, 1936, APHA, 1940, APHA, 1957). The Committee did attempt to find evidence of the risk of illness from bathing waters prior to their reports in 1940 and 1955, but they found no compelling evidence. They stated that very little reliable data were available to implicate bathing places in the spread of disease (APHA,1957).