This study aimed to assess the sanitary quality of water, and wet and dry sand from three beaches located in the South Coast region of São Paulo State, Brazil, selected taking into account the frequency of tourists and the water quality (good, fair and poor). Thirty-six water samples each of wet and dry sand and seawater were collected monthly over a period of one year and analyzed for fecal indicator bacteria (FIB: thermotolerant coliforms, Escherichia coli, and enterococci), presumptive Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans and dermatophytes. The results revealed FIB concentrations more elevated in dry sand followed by wet sand and water. P. aeruginosa and presumptive S. aureus were detected with a similar frequency in water and sand samples, but maximum concentrations and geometric means were higher in dry sand. C. albicans was detected only in water samples whereas the dermatophyte Microsporum sp. was isolated exclusively from dry and wet sand samples. This evaluation showed also that the environment had a significant influence on P. aeruginosa but not on presumptive S. aureus concentrations. According to threshold values proposed in the literature for E. coli and enterococci dry sand densities, none of the beaches would be considered of sufficient quality for recreational activities.

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