SAN DIEGO — The contaminated water at our local beaches is nothing new, but a new study out Thursday shows it’s not just the water you that is concerning scientists.

Research conducted by UC San Diego and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography found that the bacteria from the Tijuana River Valley which is contaminating our South Bay beaches can become airborne.

A team of experts studied atmospheric aerosols from January to May in 2019.

For 26 days, samples were taken from the water in Imperial Beach and 20 miles north, near the Scripps Pier, and were compared with air samples taken from the same locations.

Scientists discovered that the bacteria from the sewage water that’s in the ocean can transfer into the air when waves crash. 

Kimberly Prather, Ph. D., a Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry and a Distinguished Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and at UC San Diego underscored the findings during a recent webinar.

“The atmosphere has no walls. Once things get into the air, it can affect many more people from an inhalation perspective,” she said.

Prather went on to say, “Up to 76%, about three-fourths of the bacteria, could be linked from the sewage that was detected in the Tijuana River. Three-fourths of the bacteria that are airborne — the most likely source is from the Tijuana River.”

She said they identified different types of bacteria and the top 15 are all commonly found in sewage.

Researchers discussed that additional studies must be conducted to determine what happens when one inhales such bacterium.