Children exposure-related behavior patterns and risk perception associated with recreational beach use

Alesia Ferguson, Courtney Del Donno, Emmanuel Obeng-Gyasi, Kristina Mena, Tanu Kaur Altomare, Rosalía Guerrero, Maribeth Gidley, Larissa Montas, Helena M. Solo-Gabriele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Oil spill chemicals (OSCs) result not only from the crude oil components but also from dispersants used in the clean-up activities, where some may result in adverse health effects under certain exposure and dosage conditions. One of the main populations of concern for exposure to OSCs are children, who are frequent beach users. Activities such as ingestion of and digging in sand can increase dermal and ingestion exposure. Longer times spent at the beach can also increase exposures for all routes. Objectives: The Beach Exposure and Child Health Study (BEaCHeS) was initiated to evaluate the risk of exposure to children from oil contaminants. Reported here are results for surveys collected, as a part of the project, to address exposure-related behavior patterns and risk perception for parents or guardians who visit the beach. Methods: Over 400 parental surveys were collected at four beaches, two in Miami and two in Texas, to evaluate children’s exposure related activities. Surveys consisted of three general sections: demographics, exposure, and risk perception. Surveys were analyzed in REDcap and Stata to evaluate demographic and regional differences on activities related to beach behavior and potential exposures to oil contaminants (e.g., how much time spent on beach, cleaning habits following beach activities). The statistical analysis included the mean and standard errors, along with regressions to evaluate associations between parameters. Results: Overall, the data showed high variability in how children play on the beach, influenced more by age and less by gender. Variations were also seen in certain variables by beach region (e.g., hygiene practices). By race, variations were seen in income, distance of travel to beach, and preferred method of communication for beach warning. Other important findings are reflected in the article. Discussion: The data presented here may prove useful for those evaluating children exposures to a variety of contaminants, chemical, or bacterial in origin. In addition, coastal managers may find the risk perception and general behaviors useful for planning and maintenance of beach areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2783
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Beach surveys
  • Children exposure
  • Oil spill chemicals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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