While much focus on beach quality in Estonia focuses on the bathing water conditions, examining the nearby sand also brings interesting results in the case of one popular central Tallinn spot, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Friday.
The recent warm weather has brought crowds to the shorelines even at spots which lack an official public beach. One of these is Inglirand (literally "angel's beach") in Tallinn, which despite being within a few hundred meters of a busy ferry and cruise terminal, is a popular destination.
Leaving aside water quality issues, mining scientist and emeritus professor at Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) Enno Reinsalu decided to investigate precisely what the sand on Inglirand is composed of.
Reinsalu told AK that: "I was examining why it is so gray in color. It shouldn't be that shade of gray; as pure quartz sand, from the Tiskre sandstone formation. It was at this point that I had concerns that the sand contained all kinds of extraneous matter."
Under the microscope, Reinsalu identified black anthracite – likely from a fuel leak from a sunken vessel, asphalt, again likely originating from a ship, as well as ashpalt and car tire detritus from the nearby road – Reidi tee and Pirita tee.
A former waste disposal and oil dump facility which was removed in the building of the Reidi tee a few years ago, also contributed to the melange.
"I've even found this strange substance that can't be explained easily but which must have come from a ship somewhere, namely technical silicon," Reinsalu added.
Additionally, plenty of plastics can be found within the sands of Inglirand, Reinsalu said, though not in a way which presents a health threat. This is simply because they are too large.
"if they were in the form of nanoparticles, then they would be dangerous," he said, adding that in that case, the harmful substances could be inhaled.
While a popular spot, perhaps due to its easy-to-reach location and the presence of the nearby Russalka monument, a memorial to a 19th century shipwreck which is a place of near-pilgrimage for many members of the Russian-speaking community in Tallinn, water quality at Inglirand is not Health Board-approved, meaning swimming is not advised.
Monika Haukanõmm, Tallinn City Government city center district elder, told ERR as long ago as two years past that steps were being taken to make bring the beach up to standards where it could be given official public status. However, ths has not yet happened.
Nikita Groznov, current city center district elder, told AK that "The obstacle is that water standards do not comply with current legislation. The water is not safe for public health. In order for the water quality to rise to the extent that it is safe, the collectors need to be rebuilt or redirected, which is a very large-scale job."
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Ave Häkli.