If you’re lucky enough to live on or near the coast, the beach is the spot to relax, catch some rays, and apparently lounge on some poop-contaminated sand, according to the American Chemical Society.
Even if there aren’t signs posted about sewage-contaminated coastal waters, you know the ocean is one big toilet for animals (including many beach-goers) and, if ingested, contaminated water can cause stomach aches, diarrhea, and rashes. You may avoid taking a dip for those very reasons, but researchers have found fecal bacteria in beach sand at levels 10 to 100 times higher than in nearby seawater. How lovely.
To find out why, researchers created miniature replicas of beach sand and seawater, and contaminated them with sewage to see how the bacteria populations and fecal matter would change over time. Turns out, poop decays far slower in sand than in water.
Remember this the next time your buddy wants to bury you neck-deep in sand…