The sands of Marina Beach in Chennai — India’s longest urban beach — are blanketed with toxic white foam puffs as a result of pollution.
Despite warnings that the foam could cause skin damage, families are playing in the bubbles and some are even using the strange occurrence as a backdrop in selfies. Triggered by the heavy rainfall, it is likely a pollutant comprised of laundry detergent and other waste, according to Agence France-Presse.
“It has mixed with the stagnant sewage which contains a high level of phosphate (a chemical derivative of phosphoric acid),” a spokesperson for the local Pollution Control Board told the Indian Express. “The excessive water along with untreated sewage has entered the sea and due to the severe turbulence, the coastline is engulfed in foam. We have collected the samples and analyzing them.”
Local officials told the Indian Express the foam would disappear within a day or two. Monday marked the fourth consecutive day that the toxic white bubbles washed up on Marina Beach.
Foam on India's Marina Beach Credit: ARUN SANKAR/Getty Images
This is not the first time that the foam has appeared on Chennai’s coastline. Chennai’s sewage treatment plan is devised for a certain amount of water. And during monsoon season, an excessive amount of water can cause storage facilities to overflow. The “frothing” has previously killed tons of fish in the local basin.
In 2017, a similar foam bubbled over the riverbanks of Bangalore, according to CNN. Officials fenced off the area where the foam was growing as it was filled with a carcinogen that could create skin and respiratory problems.
“Pollution is now a bigger threat to India's beaches than the rising seas," Pravakar Mishra, a scientist at the National Centre for Coastal Research in Chennai, told NDTV.
In addition to the pollution resulting in eerie looking foam, disruption to the environment has also made its way 2,000 miles north of Chennai as the Taj Mahal in Agra now has air purifiers to combat the overwhelming smog at the famed tourist attraction.