Monday, December 17, 2018




Study finds sewage bacteria in Hudson River sediments

PALISADES – A new study conducted by scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades has found that fecal bacteria from sewage are living in far greater quantities in near-shore sediments of the Hudson River than in the water itself.

The river’s pollution levels are generally monitored from samples of clear water, not sediments, so the findings suggest that people stirring up the bottom while wading, swimming or kayaking may face previously unrecognized health risks, researchers said.

The scientists sampled 11 sites along the river banks in Rockland and Westchester counties as well as in eastern Queens. In some they found as much as 10 times more fecal bacteria in sediments as in overlying water.

Sites with sandier bottoms tended to have fewer germs, while levels were higher in fine, mucky organic-rich areas.

“These organisms originate in the human gut, where it’s organic rick and dark,” said Lamont-Doherty biologist Andrew Juhl. “The water in the river is neither organic rich nor dark, but the sediments on the bottom typically are, and that makes them a better environment for potentially harmful microorganisms.” Juhl said this is one of the first studies to test that idea in a river estuary, and the first one in this area.


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