London: A smartphone app that gives swimmers and surfers real-time warnings about pollution incidents on beaches has been launched in the UK.
The app sends alerts or text messages about discharges of sewage and storm water at almost 250 beaches in England and Wales.
The service was developed by the charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) in response to concerns about a rise in sewage spills, which can cause illnesses for beach-goers.
The app, funded by UK`s Environment Agency, accesses data from water companies on combined sewer overflows, which allow untreated sewage and storm water into the sea in periods of heavy rain to prevent sewers backing up.
It sends out alerts or text messages to users when pollution reaches dangerous levels and the information is posted online, `BBC News` reported.
SAS hopes the alert service will help beach users bathe at their favourite spots safely, without fearing illnesses such as stomach bugs, skin, ear, eye and chest infections, or sore throats, and even hepatitis.
The app also allows bathers to send a "must try harder" message to water companies and report pollution incidents to the Environment Agency`s hotline.
The sewage alert service was tested on three beaches in Cornwall, and a poll of 591 people, conducted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in the UK found that 94 per cent of people who received information about short-term spills took action to avoid them.