Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Kamal Alsharif, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Connie Mizak, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Collins, Ph.D.


Water Quality, Ocean, Health, Behavior, Beach Users


Garbage & sewage runoff into the Pacific Ocean at the shoreline along the U.S./Mexico Border region poses serious health and environmental threats. The purpose of this study was to analyze the current beach users’ behavioral factors that may be linked to illness prevalence from Coronado Island to the U.S./Mexico border at Imperial Beach in San Diego County. It is a continuation of a study completed by Wildcoast and Imperial Beach Clinic in 2011. The study tried to answer the following two major questions: How have the number of illnesses reported by users along South San Diego County beaches changed in the last 5 years? What relationships exist between reported illness and beach user behavior, if any? To accomplish this, a 2-page self-reporting survey was administered asking about demographics, beach recreation habits, illness and exposure information, and allowed for comments. Surveys were distributed to beach users along Imperial Beach northward to Coronado Island during May, June, and July of 2014. Quantitative as well as qualitative data were collected. The results show that the majority of respondents did not report suffering from an illness, however, for those who did report an illness, frequency of water entry, seasonality of water entry, entry during beach closures, and primary means of water contact were significantly correlated to illness prevalence.