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Bathing water quality
Sanitary control organisation
Advices and recommendations
Water and health


Accreditation Process implemented by an analysis laboratory, integrating analysis procedures, tools and equipment, in order to receive official recognition of the quality and accuracy of its analysis findings.  Accreditation is given by an independent body, the French Accreditation Committee (COFRAC) and periodically gives rise to re-assessment.
Amoeba Very small living organisms (30 to 500 micrometers long) found in freshwater or saltwater, as well as in wetland surfaces.
Anthropogenic Due to human activity.
Individual sanitation Wastewater treatment system intended for household use.  Generally, an independent sanitation system treats the wastewater from one or more dwelling(s) and is composed most often of a septic tank, connected to an underground drainage system.
Community sanitation Wastewater treatment system used by a local community.  In many cases, it is a gutter network leading to a residual water purification plant.
Bacteria Living organism of microscopic size.
Physical characteristics of a zone All information describing a bathing site’s natural environment and developments carried out on it.
Cataract Visual disorder due to a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, possibly due to trauma or inflammation of the eye.
Cercaria State of development of certain parasites enabling them to enter the human organism.
Chemoprophylaxis Preventive medical treatment using chemical substances.
Chloramines Compound resulting from the reaction of chlorine with organic matter.  Chloramines can, depending on their concentration in water, irritate the eyes and mucous glands.
Anaphylactic shock State of shock due to poisoning or allergy that can cause constriction of the airways or cardiac arrest.
Coliforms, faecal coliforms, total coliforms Group of bacteria indicating the state of salubriousness of seawater or shellfish.  They are germs present in the intestines of warm-blooded animals and, when present in water in large numbers, they often reveal contamination by excrement and the possible presence of other disease-bearing pathogens.
Shellfish-farming Refers to a sector in which shellfish (oysters, mussels, clams, etc.) are grown.
Faecal contamination Contamination of water by excrement.
Health inspections Inspections carried out to protect public health.  The aim is to regularly check the quality of bathing waters, to ensure they are in compliance with the standards in effect.
DDAM Direction Départementale des Affaires Maritimes, The Department-Wide Directorate on Maritime Affairs.  Established at the département level, it is in charge of enforcing national policy by regulating marine farming activities and professional or recreational fishing along the coast.
DDASS Direction Départementale des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales, The Department-Wide Directorate on Health and Social Affairs. Established at the département level, it is in charge of enforcing national policy by implementing health inspections on water, in particular bathing water.
Dermatitis Skin disease.
Dermocorticoids Corticoid-based skin treatment.
Dehydration State in which the body does not have adequate water supply.
European Directive Text set out at the European level and incorporated into the laws and regulations of each Member State.  For instance, European Directive 76/160 on bathing water quality was incorporated into French law in the Public Health Code.  .
DOM Overseas Department (Guyana, Reunion Island, Guadeloupe, Martinique)
Dinophysis Toxic algae that can be found in some shellfish.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) Germ belonging to the faecal coliform family, indicating water contamination by excrement.
Compliant water Water that meets the quality requirements set out in relevant legislation. 
Wastewater Household wastewater includes water from toilet drain outlets, and household waters drained from kitchens and bathrooms.
Outfall Refers to a pipe that disposes of rainwater or sometimes polluting substances in the natural environment.
Enterococci Germs present in the intestines of warm-blooded animals.  Their presence in large numbers is a sign that the water they are in may be contaminated by excrement and possibly contain other disease-bearing pathogens.
Envenomation or envenoming Poisoning through the veins.
Physiological condition Body condition.
Icterohemorrhagic fever Fever associated with liver haemorrhage.
Instant visitor count Number of bathers present at any one time on a bathing site.
Germs Micro-organisms capable of triggering disease.
Faecal contamination marker germs Faecal contamination marker germs include total coliforms, faecal coliforms and faecal streptococcus.  These are common germs that are not directly pathogenic, but are indicators of the presence of other germs that are pathogens for man.  The presence of such bacteria in water is a clear sign of faecal pollution.
Bed Location where shellfish are found and live.
Haemolytic Property characterising the destruction of red blood cells.
Hydrocarbons Compound containing mainly carbon and hydrogen, used as a source of energy, but possibly a form of environmental pollution.
Hydrocution State of shock that can lead to cardio-respiratory syncope upon sudden immersion in water.
Hyperthermia Excessively-high body temperature with possibly serious health consequences.
Hypothermia Excessively-low body temperature with possibly serious health consequences.
Indicator Item describing the quality of bathing water.
Keratitis Inflammation of the cornea.
Approved laboratory Water analysis laboratory recognised as qualified to determine micro-organism and chemical compound concentrations in water samples.
Leptospires Bacteria responsible for the disease leptospirosis.
Melanoma Serious form of skin cancer.
Curative measures All technical (anti-pollution) or administrative (prohibition, etc.) measures intended to ensure that low-quality bathing water becomes compliant again with the standards in effect.
Heavy metals Refers to a range of high-density metals, often resulting from industrial processes, such as mercury, lead or cadmium, which can enter the food chain and, in certain concentrations and over the long term, cause serious diseases, generally in the nervous or blood system.
Standardised analysis methods Set of procedures, tools and equipment used by laboratories in a fully compliant manner to analyse water quality.  The methods are referred to as “standardised” because they are recognised as reliable and normalised.
Micro-pollutant Substance considered as polluting the environment and present in very small quantities.
Mytilism Food poisoning by mussels.
Necrosis Destruction of living cells.
Neurotoxins Substances that are toxic to the nervous system.  Certain algae, referred to as cyanobacteria may be neurotoxic.
Parasite Animal or plant organism which, during part of its existence, sustains itself using substances produced by another living organism, the tissues of which it lives on or in, thereby causing damage.
Pathogen Disease-causing.
PCBs Polychlorobiphenyls substances.
Foot bath Small basin set at the entrance to a pool and intended to disinfect bathers’ feet.
Phenols Polluting substances coming mainly from industry.
Toxic phytoplankton Aquatic plant micro-organism similar to algae, capable of producing toxic substances.
Invariant point Is said of an inspection point when the inspections are always carried out at the same place.
Withdrawal points Specifically-identified place on a bathing site where water quality is regularly checked.  The withdrawal points must be representative of the site’s water quality.
Diffuse pollution Pollution that can be observed across time and space.  Generally, this type of pollution comes from an extensive area.
Microbiological pollution Water pollution from germs.
Declaration procedure The law and regulations provide that any bathing site set up by the town or a private site manager must be declared to the Town Council, according to specific rules.  In particular, the Prefect must be sent, along with the declaration, a set of documents giving good reason for the action.
Protozoans Animal micro-organism present in water that may be the cause of certain diseases
Unit grid Gutter system that collects all wastewater and rainwater.
Septicaemia Infectious condition in which bacteria enter the blood repeatedly and in large quantities.
Health-Environment Department Department within the DDASS, responsible for implementing national policy on health issues (i.e., water, air, food hygiene, etc.) owed to the state of the environment.
Oto-rhino-laryngo sphere Field including the nose, ear and throat systems.
STEP French acronym for Purification Station: facility that receives wastewater from gutter systems and treats them before disposing of them in the environment.
Faecal streptococci Germs present in the intestines of warm-blooded animals.  Their presence in large numbers is a sign that the water they are in may be contaminated by excrement and possibly contain other disease-bearing pathogens.
Tensio-active substances Group of substances contained in detergents and laundry agents, with chemical properties allowing them to hold in dirt and grease.  They can also be responsible for diseases in man.
Febrile syndrome Set of signs that denote fever.
T.B.T. Tributyl Tin, a toxic compound used in anti-fouling paint for boat hulls, which can be later found in certain filtering shellfish.
Incubation time Time required between contamination and the emergence of the first symptoms of disease.
Thermoregulation Biological mechanism that maintains body temperature at an adequate, regular level.
Toxin Toxic substance produced by certain bacteria.
Urticant A substance that causes itching or stinging, for instance, such as a nettle.
Guideline values Water quality values reflecting germ concentrations below which water can be considered compliant.  Above that level, the water can be classified as average-quality, or even non-compliant.
Mandatory values Water quality values reflecting germ concentrations below which water is considered non-compliant.
Vesicle Small membranous pouch.
  Virus Infectious micro-organism with a clearly-defined structure, invisible using an optic microscope