Playa del Carmen, Q.R. – A water sampling program shows that the sea water along the Riviera Maya is clean and healthy.
The Clean Beach program, which is carried out by Cofepris — Comisión Federal de Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios (Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks), shows that local beaches are fit for human enjoyment.
The program is similar to that carried out in the United States and Canada where water samples are taken nationwide and analyzed.
Efraín Alonzo Sansores, area coordinator for Cofepris, says that the water samples were taken in various areas along the Riviera Maya at the beginning of March. In total, six beaches were tested which included Punta Esmeralda, Chunzubul, Porto Real, Balneario Público del Muelle Fiscal, Lancheros and Paamul.
Water samples were tested for enterococci, bacteria that are a part of the normal intestinal flora of humans and animals but are distinguished by their ability to survive in salt water. Although enterococci may be present without fecal pollution, enterococci are considered indicator organims in water samples. Counts of enterococci are commonly used in fresh and marine water environments as indicators of recreational water quality.
Seawater samples with ratios of 35 enterococci per 200 faecal coliforms are considered suitable. Water samples along the Riviera Maya average 20 enterococci per 200 faecal coliforms.
Water samples were also taken for other areas including Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujueres and Tulum as well as down into the southern portion of the state. All samples offered similar results with enterococci levels being well under the acceptable level.
The cleanest water samples were taken at three beaches in Tulum. The tested beaches were Zamas, Xcacel and Maya, all of which came back with the lowest enterococci levels in the state with an average of 10 enterococci per 200 faecal coliforms.
According to American Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, bacteria that are completely harmless to humans are naturally abundant in ocean water, however beaches are closed when bacteria that shouldn’t be there are detected.
Last year there were 22,571 days of beach closures or advisories nationwide in the United States, second only to 2006 for the highest number of closures in the last 18 years. The most frequent adverse health outcome associated with exposure to faecally contaminated recreational water is enteric illness.