The evidence is surging
If this isn’t evidence enough, we also investigated which sickness reports were made whilst a sewage alert was in place. Unsurprisingly, this further validated doctors’ diagnoses (Figure 4).
Types of polluted water induced sickness reported during 2022-23.
60% of all the sickness reports submitted were from bathing waters classified as ‘Excellent’.
Taking time off work and going to hospital due to getting sick from a dip in the water doesn’t quite paint the picture of crystal-clear waters in the UK. But a massive 1,164 of the sickness reports submitted were registered at bathing waters classified as ‘excellent’ – defined as having the ‘highest, cleanest water quality’ (Figure 5).
This is deeply worrying. If we can’t swim in ‘excellent’ waters without getting sick, our odds aren’t looking good for the rest of the UK…
From the reports that had a confirmed sewage discharge and where people visited a doctor, 83% said the doctor attributed their sickness to sewage polluted waters.
It’s not just health that’s affected
It’s not just the environment and people’s health being impacted, it’s whole livelihoods and businesses too. The knock-on effects of people falling sick is impacting whole families, finances and work, as well as putting an increasing strain on the NHS.
From the Sickness Reports submitted this year, a total of 1,987 days were taken off work. That’s the equivalent of over five years.
97 people had to take a week or more off work, with one person even being forced to quit their job because of their prolonged sickness.