WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A new report from nonprofits revealed that around 60% of U.S. beaches are heavily polluted and registered bacteria levels were found to be even greater than the Beach Action Value” threshold of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
- Out of 175 days in Inner Cabrillo Beach in Los Angeles County, 85 days are confirmed to be possibly unsafe while a beach in Delaware is found to be safe except for one day out of 33 days.
- People in contact with pollutants cause illnesses including gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases.
Before heading out to the beach this summer, better check out first the water conditions.
A report issued Tuesday by two nonprofits, Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group, revealed that from the 4,523 beaches tested across the United States last year, roughly 60% have shown unsafe water pollution levels on at least one day.
Bacteria levels that surpassed the “Beach Action Value” threshold of the US Environmental Protection Agency registered in these 2,585 beaches. With these, states are advised to issue early warnings to beachgoers who may be particularly sensitive to pollutants.
Based on the new report’s higher end of the scale, out of 175 days that were sampled, 85 potentially unsafe days were reported in Inner Cabrillo Beach, Los Angeles County while only one day was found unsafe on one of 33 sampled days in Delaware’s Bethany Beach in Sussex County.
Data from sampling carried out by local, state and federal agencies was covered in the report which was turned over to the National Water Quality Monitoring Council’s Water Quality Portal.
Sewage and fecal contamination of swimming areas present a threat to public health, warned the report. Gastrointestinal illness, respiratory disease, infections and rashes can develop when humans come into contact with such contaminants. The report also includes that pollution at beaches is caused by urban runoff, sewage overflow, concentrated livestock manure, and inefficient septic systems.
Over the past decades, reported recreational water illnesses had continued to increase, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2018 study published in the journal Environmental Health reports a yearly occurrence of 90 million diseases from water recreation activities.
While the beach is the ultimate destination for millions of Americans during summertime, much should be invested in water infrastructure to prevent pollution, said John Rumpler, the director of Environment America’s Clean Water Program. “Clearly we have more work to do to ensure that America’s waterways are safe for swimming,” he added in a news release.
Safety precautions at the beach:
While there is bacteria in the water every time we get in, Dr. Alison Huffstetler of Georgetown University School of Medicine suggests washing hands and feet after swimming and avoiding swallowing ocean water. Beachgoers are also advised by the EPA not to swim at beaches where there are discharge pipes, or at city beaches after heavy rains.