If You Swim in the Hudson River, Don’t Stir the Muck


Scientists have found up to 10 times as many pathogens in the Hudson River’s near-shore soil than in its water, according to a new study by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.

Sewage discharge pipes spew fecal matter into the river estuary, which includes parts of Long Island Sound and New York harbor. Harmful micro-organisms that float in the water tend to disperse and dilute. But those that sink into the sediment have a chance to settle and thrive and, if they can feed off the river’s organic muck, even reproduce.

“These fecal bacteria in the water, they typically last just a couple of days — but in the sediments, they can last for many months,” said biologist and study author Andrew Juhl. He said that if those sediments are stirred up, the pathogens within can be released into the water.


Photo by alecperkins

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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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