Environmental NPO Halts Clean-Ups Amid Health Concerns


A non-profit organization (NPO) that has dedicated itself to keep the San Diego River a clean waterway has had to cease their works due to concerns of Hepatitis A.

Sarah Hutmacher, a member of the San Diego River Park Foundation, commented that Hepatitis A is a huge problem. While her organization has seen to the cleansing of trash throughout the area, some regions are difficult to reach and allow for the rapid build up of trash. The SDRPF is dedicated to preserving the health and cleanliness of the San Diego River and its surrounding areas. In this year alone, volunteers connected to the organization have purged more than 220,000 pounds, 110 tons, of trash from the region.

Ninety percent of which can be traced back to the area's population of homeless people. The homeless demographic is at an exceptionally high risk for Hepatitis A, a disease that has killed 17 San Diegoans and sickened hundreds more. One of the most common ways of contracting the disease is from contact with used needles or human feces. Hepatitis A's prevalence has become so bad that SDRPG has had to cancel its large-scale restoration projects for the rest of 2017. Hutmacher commented that when diseases like Hepatitis A spread so rampantly her organization is disincentivized to bring its volunteers at risk.

Those with a fondness for the river has also commented on the health concerns. Jessica Belser, a resident of Mission Valley, commented that while the area is great for a family stroll and the presence of trash is an eyesore, she understands the worry over disease and places the health of others over restoration.

All employees and volunteers connected to the SDRPF have been strongly advised into getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A. The organization requires that any such person who fails to seek vaccinations must sign a waiver indicated that they understand the risks of succumbing to Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A is among five different variants of the disease whose most prominent ailment is an inflammation of the liver that can branch off into failure or scarring of the liver or even liver cancer; the disease's name is derived from the Greek words for "liver" and "inflammation." The rigors of Hepatitis A, B and D can be prevented through vaccination and Hepatitis D can only affect people with prior exposure to Hepatitis B. Other Hepatitis symptoms include yellowed skin and abdominal pain.