More than 50 skin diseases are being linked to the pollution of the UK’s coastline, according to a study which has identified several pollutants including pesticides and chemicals.
The British government has said it is committed to cleaning up its coastline, but experts have warned that some coastal communities are already struggling to cope with the pollution.
The Environmental Audit Group (EAG) said it found more than 200 skin diseases associated with pollution at its analysis of more than 1.6 million health and safety data.
It said: “More than 50 disease types were identified which were not previously known to have such high prevalence in the UK.”
The findings are very concerning, as the number of diseases linked with pollution on our coastlines is likely to be far higher than previously thought.
“There are some very promising signs, such as improved outcomes for some of the most common conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and cystic fibrosis.”
However, the most significant trend is the increase in the prevalence of skin diseases related to pollution.
“The EAG report, which analysed more than 150,000 data sets, also said that there was a higher risk of developing skin cancer among people living near areas of polluted beaches.
The EAAG has called for a nationwide action plan to tackle the issue.
It also said it was concerned about the fact that while some coastal towns and cities have been doing their bit to reduce pollution, many others have not, with some communities seeing a 50% rise in skin cancer rates.
More than half of the beaches surveyed by the EAG were found to be polluted, with pollution increasing in the summer months.
It added: “This is not surprising, given that many of the pollution hotspots are close to tourist destinations, where the summer visitor population tends to be larger.”
While the EAAGs findings show that some beaches may have an increased risk of skin cancer, the magnitude of this increase is unknown.”
Given the increasing level of pollution and the impact it is having on our health, we urge the Government to make sure that all beaches and beaches near tourism hotspots, including those close to beaches that are popular with people, are cleaned up.
“This could include prioritising beaches which are popular tourist destinations and which are clean of pollution.”