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Human health impacts from litter on beaches and associated perceptions: A case study of 'clean' Tasmanian beaches
journal contributionposted on 2016-06-01, 00:00 authored by Marnie CampbellMarnie Campbell, C Slavin, A Grage, A Kinslow
People take for granted that injuries occur at beaches. But the evidence for injuries caused by beach litter is lacking within the literature. Therefore, we examined the prevalence of litter related beach injuries at Tasmanian (Australia) beaches. A risk equation was developed to determine injury risk posed by litter based on a user's frequency of beach visitation. Examined beaches are considered 'clean' (approximately 1.69 kg of debris per beach) using the Clean Coast Index. Moderate proportions (21.6%) of beach users received injuries from beach litter, illustrating that even clean beaches pose a threat of injury. Realised risk was high; with wounds (65%) being the most common injury. Daily beach visitation decreased injury risks (high to moderate/high). Respondents seldom (12.9%) recognise beach litter injuries as a major concern, instead focussing on impacts that litter in the marine environment (including beaches) has on marine biota. Respondent's perceptions of cause and responsibility of beach litter are discussed, with implications provided within a re-education context.