VDH News Release


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Virginia Department of Health suggests caution, common sense in decisions on using recreational water

RICHMOND, VA -- The Virginia Departments of Health and Environmental Quality today urged citizens to use caution and common sense to avoid possible illnesses caused by waterborne organisms and issued a general statement about the safety of swimming in the state's rivers, streams and lakes.

Recent news stories about pollution in some of Virginia's rivers and streams have prompted questions from citizens concerned about the advisability of swimming in rivers,streams and other natural "swimming holes." Today's statement is intended to help citizens make better-informed decisions, said representatives of the state agencies.

"It is impossible to guarantee that any natural body of water is free of risk from disease organisms," the two agencies said. All rivers, streams and lakes contain algae, bacteria viruses and parasites from plants, animals and sometimes human waste, the statement said. "Most of the organisms in Virginia's rivers and lakes probably do not cause human illness or are in such low levels they will not make anyone sick, but there is no way to be sure."

The Department of Environmental Quality monitors water quality across the state and publishes its findings every two years in a report to Congress and the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Health makes recommendations on the risk of disease exposure and prevention, and monitors the occurrence of disease in our population

The statement will be distributed to local health departments, parks and recreation offices, boat landings, the news media and other interested parties.


Full Risks Statement from VDH
Source: VDH news release October 16,1995

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