Rianna Murray, Sacoby Wilson, Laura Dalemarre, Victoria Chanse, Janet Phoenix, Lori Baranoff
Environmental Health Insights 9 (s2), (1 January 2020) https://doi.org/10.1177/EHI.S19594
KEYWORDS: Anacostia River, Chesapeake Bay, legacy pollution, limited-contact water recreation, exposure, health risk
The Anacostia River, a tributary of the Potomac River that flows into the Chesapeake Bay, is highly contaminated with raw sewage, heavy metals, oil and grease, trash, pathogens, excessive sediments, and organic chemicals. Despite this contamination, recreation on the river is very popular, including kayaking, canoeing, rowing, and sport fishing. There is currently no information available on the potential health risks faced by recreational users from exposure to the river's pollutants. A total of 197 recreational users of the Anacostia River were surveyed regarding general demographic information and their recreational behavior over the previous year, including frequency and duration of recreation and specific questions related to their water exposure. 84.1% of respondents who engaged in canoeing, kayaking, rowing, rafting, or paddling were exposed to water on their bodies during recreation. Some 27.2% of those exposed to water reported getting water in their mouth while recreating, and 60.7% of that group reported swallowing some of this water. This is the first study to examine the exposure to contaminants faced by the recreational population of the Anacostia River.