Escherichia coli in the Swash Zone at Four Ohio Bathing Beaches

Fact Sheet 134-02
By:  and 



The zone of the shoreline that is constantly washed by waves or tides, called the swash zone, is an attractive recreational area, especially for children who play in the sand. The swash zone, however, has been suggested as a possible habitat for waterborne disease-causing microorganisms (pathogens). The spaces between the sand grains, or interstices, offer habitats that may support the survival of certain bacterial, viral, and protozoan pathogens (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1999). To investigate this possibility, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) determined the distribution of Escherichia coli ( E. coli ) in subsurface sediments and interstitial waters collected from near the swash zone at three Lake Erie urban beaches and one inland lake during the recreational seasons of 2000 and 2001. Water and lake-bottom sediment samples were also collected within the bathing areas and were analyzed for E. coli ; these bathing-water data were compared to swash-zone data to determine whether swash-zone materials were enriched with E. coli .

Suggested Citation

Francy, D.S., and Gifford, A.M., 2002, Escherichia coli in the swash zone at four Ohio bathing beaches: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2002–134, 4 p.,

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • What is the Swash Zone?
  • How Are Bacteria Levels Monitored at Bathing Beaches?
  • Why Was This Study Done?
  • How Was This Study Done?
  • What Were The Study Results?
  • References
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Escherichia coli in the swash zone at four Ohio bathing beaches
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 134-02
DOI 10.3133/fs13402
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Description 4 p.
Country United States
State Ohio
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Additional publication details