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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Media Center
DATE: May 18, 2009
CONTACT:Chris Nash, NHDES Shellfish Program Manager,  (603) 568-6741
Tim Bridges, EPA, (617) 918-8603 or (617) 223-1373

DES and EPA Conduct Dye Study on Little River in North Hampton
Study will help define bacterial pollution to the Atlantic Ocean

North Hampton, NH - Scientists from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) Shellfish Program and Beach Program, along with staff from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New England Regional Laboratory, will conduct a dye tracing study on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 on the Little River, in the vicinity of North Hampton State Beach in North Hampton, New Hampshire. Little River has been identified as a source of bacterial pollution to the Atlantic Ocean. While the exact origins of the bacterial pollution remain under investigation, this study will help state managers more accurately define how much of the Atlantic Ocean is adversely affected by the intermittently high bacteria levels coming from Little River.

To initiate the study, a red dye will be injected into the river during the ebbing tide in the morning. The dye’s dilution and transport patterns will then be tracked by DES and EPA staff by periodic water sampling throughout the day. The waters near North Hampton State Beach will likely have a reddish/pink color during the study, but the dye will quickly be diluted to undetectable levels. The red dye is non-toxic to humans and marine life, but beachgoers are advised that the dye can stain clothing and skin.

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