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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
PUBLIC GOVERNMENT BUSINESS A to Z LIST

Frequently Asked Questions
Other Questions
 
  • Is it safe to be on the sand if the water has elevated amounts of bacteria?
    Although a study conducted at New Hampshire’s coastal beaches did not find elevated bacteria levels in beach sand, other studies have determined that sand is a health threat. One way that bacteria levels can be elevated within the swimming area is if rain or waves carry fecal material from beach sand to the swimming water. Many times when there is an advisory at a freshwater beach you will find goose or other animal feces on the sand. Keeping this in mind, it is a good idea to wash your hands and rinse off after visiting a beach that has an advisory posted. Special attention should be given to young children who are likely to have the most contact with sand and have a tendency to ingest sand. It is always recommended to wash your hands before eating when you’ve made contact with the sand at any beach.
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  • I see orange and brown slime in a local stream or in a puddle near the beach, what is it and is it safe?
    Orange or brown precipitate and oily sheens usually indicate the presence of iron bacteria. Iron bacteria uptake, or consume, iron. The process of iron uptake and cell death generates a rust colored slime in the surrounding water. Iron bacteria occur naturally in water and soil that contain high concentrations of iron. Although aesthetically unpleasing to view, the bacteria are not a human health threat. There may be concerns that the oily sheen might be a petroleum product like gas or oil. To distinguish a difference, sheens caused by petroleum products remain intact while the iron bacteria sheen breaks apart and stay apart when disturbed.
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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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