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Several East Coast beaches in Florida remain closed due to 'unknown airborne irritant'

No swimming allowed in Delray Beach
Posted: 9:58 AM, Oct 01, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-01 11:32:01-04
Unknown irritant closes Fla. East Coast beaches
Unknown irritant closes Fla. East Coast beaches

Beaches from Martin County south to Lake Worth along Florida's East Coast continue to be closed Monday after what is being described as an “unknown airborne irritant” caused people to become sick over the weekend.

Palm Beach County beaches from the Martin County line south to Kreusler Park in Palm Beach are closed, which includes DuBois Park but not Phil Foster Park. 

Peanut Island swimming beach is also closed. Parking lots, picnic areas, and pavilions not on the beach will be open.

As a precaution, no swimming is allowed Monday on Delray Beach for the possible irritant.

Beachgoers reported breathing problems in Jupiter, which prompted a response from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. Others said they had trouble breathing, headaches and itchy eyes – symptoms consistent with red tide.

“I (was) coughing like crazy for 20 minutes and [my friends’s] eyes were burning. Well, neither one of us knew what was going on at that time,” said Jupiter resident Tom Thompson.

The Florida Department of Health on Sunday issued a health advisory for the next 48 hours.

Persons with respiratory allergies are advised to avoid contact with the beaches.

The Health Department said in written statement that they received reports Saturday that a number of people on the county beaches were experiencing respiratory issues and eye irritation. 

Lake Worth beach and pier are closed until further notice. The lower parking lot here was open Monday morning and nearby businesses are still supposed to be open. However, cones and barricades are preventing people from driving up the street between the beach and the Lake Worth Casino building. 

Partners with Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife, Palm Beach County Environmental Resource Management and other state and local agencies are investigating the potential causes of the irritation. Results will not be available for at least 48 hours and as a precaution, the Health Department is issuing the Health Advisory. 

Palm Beach County has made the decision to close county beaches until the cause is known.

Martin County Beaches

In Martin County, officials said Monday that all life guarded beaches were closed to swimming due to the airborne irritant.  Call the Martin County beach hotline at 772-320-3112 for the most up-to-date info.