Thousands of volunteers combed Mississippi's beaches and waterways picking up marine debris at 77 designated cleanup sites during the 23rd annual Mississippi Coastal Cleanup, part of the International Coastal Cleanup—the world's largest volunteer effort to clean up the marine environment. During the 2011 Mississippi Coastal Cleanup, 3,102 volunteers picked up 2,218 bags of trash, along 262 miles of Coastal waterways in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. The cleanup is organized by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources’ Public Affairs Bureau and Mississippi Marine Debris Task Force. The Mississippi Coastal Cleanup returned to the beaches and barrier islands and again expanded its reach through its partnership with Mississippi Power's Renew Our Rivers program, cleaning four sites on the days leading up to the Oct. 15, 2011 cleanup and one additional site on cleanup day.
News Release: Mississippi Coastal Cleanup Nets 2,218 Bags of Trash
• In 2002, beach pollution prompted at least 12,814 closings and swimming advisories at ocean, bay, Great Lakes, and some freshwater beaches.
• Storm water and polluted runoff are potential problems at more than half (1,383) of all reported beaches with information on pollution sources, and 46% (1,152) report sewage as a pollution source.
• Beach pollution is usually infrequent and confined to local areas.
• Dirty runoff and storm water (led to more than 3,576 closings and advisories nationwide) and sewage spills and overflows (led to more than 1,390 closings and advisories nationwide) are the most frequently identified pollution sources.
• Rain is often a contributing factor to beach water pollution.
• The majority (87%) of closings and advisories in 2002 were issued after monitoring revealed the presence of bacteria associated with fecal contamination (source unknown in most cases).
• Swimming-related illnesses are usually not severe or life threatening, but can cause significant discomfort. Young children, the elderly, and people with impaired immune systems are at more of a risk than healthy, mid-aged people.
• Gastroenteritis (symptoms = diarrhea and vomiting) is the most common waterborne illness.
• A recent Southern California study revealed that people who swim close to flowing storm drains were 50% more likely to develop a variety of symptoms than those who swim further away from the same drain.
• Simple ways individuals can help to clean their local beaches include conserving water, using natural fertilizers, keeping septic systems functioning properly, disposing of boat wastes appropriately, and supporting laws that promote beach water monitoring and cleanup of pollution sources.