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1 In 10 US Beaches Fails Bacteria Test for Being Safe to Swim

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By    |   Friday, 27 Jun 2014 02:01 PM

One in 10 beaches in the U.S. fails a "safe to swim" bacteria test, threatening swimmers with illnesses like stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, and hepatitis.

According to Reuters, the Natural Resources Defense Council found that water quality samples collected from nearly 3,500 coastal and Great Lakes beaches in 2013 contained levels of harmful bacteria that exceeded safe swimming thresholds recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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"Too many people get sick when they go in the water," said Steve Fleischli, NRDC water program director. The findings are little changed over the last five years of testing, he said.

Published Wednesday in the NRDC's 24th annual report, findings show that serious water pollution persists at many beaches, largely the result of stormwater runoff and sewage overflows that carry human and animal waste into waters where people swim, surf, and sail.

The EPA encourages the issuing of advisories for beaches and lakes where water quality exceeds what it calls a "Beach Action Value," a threshold model for assessing water quality.

"It is not a federal mandate at this point. It should be. But EPA is moving in the right direction," said Fleischli.

Children are especially vulnerable to illnesses associated with polluted beach water, as they tend to submerge their heads more often than adults and are more likely to swallow water when swimming, the report said.

One analysis found that fecal contamination at Los Angeles and Orange County beaches causes between 627,800 and 1,479,200 excess gastrointestinal illnesses each year, the NRDC said.

The report lists both some "superstar" beaches, that have routinely met water quality standards over the last five years, and "repeat offenders," which are beaches showing persistent contamination problems, according to the NRDC.

Among the superstars: Gulf Shores Public Beach in Alabama; Tybee Island North in Georgia; Back Bay Beach in Virginia; and Po'ipu Beach Park in Kauai, Hawaii.

The list of beaches with repeated contamination problems included seven in Ohio; three in New York; two in Indiana; and one each in California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, the report said.

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One in 10 beaches in the U.S. fails a "safe to swim" bacteria test, threatening swimmers with illnesses like stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, and hepatitis.
1 in 10, us, beaches, fails, bacteria, test
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2014-01-27
Friday, 27 Jun 2014 02:01 PM
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