The next time you spread out your towel on a peaceful stretch of sand and settle in to catch a few rays, think–or try not to think–about this.
A new study that examined sand and seawater from Hawaiian beaches found that the sand has anywhere from 10 to 100 times higher the amount of bacteria than the water–which is basically the opposite of what we usually worry about.
Swimmers are often discouraged from going into the water on days when high levels of fecal-contaminated bacteria are found to be present. But no one really considers that there’s even more bacteria lurking in the sand, which creates a moist, dark environment that helps it thrive. Come into contact with it and you’ll be looking at a stomach bug, rashes or worse.