US beaches laden with sewage, bacteria: study

A man relaxes on a small beach along the East River in New York City
A man relaxes on a small beach along the East River in New York City on June 21. US beaches can be dirty places, making about 3.5 million people sick each year from sewage in the water, said an annual study Wednesday that rates American beaches by how dirty they are.

US beaches can be dirty places, making about 3.5 million people sick each year from sewage in the water, said an annual study Wednesday that rates American beaches by how dirty they are.

The Council report included 3,000 beaches nationwide and listed 15 "repeat offenders" that have turned up again and again in the pollution rankings.

Those included four beaches in Louisiana, Avalon and Doheny State Beaches in southern California, and select waterfront beaches in Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin.

Overall, the total number of beach closures and advisories nationwide last year was the third highest in 22 years of monitoring, said the study.

"America's beaches are plagued by a sobering legacy of , including bacteria-laden human and animal waste," said NRDC Water Program Director Steve Fleischli.

"So when people dive into the ocean, it can make them sick with a range of waterborne illnesses including , skin rashes, pink eye, ear nose and throat problems, dysentery, hepatitis, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and other serious health problems."

Louisiana tallied the highest number of dirty samples (29 percent) that exceeded national standards for designated beach areas in 2011.

The southern state famed for its seafood and music and whose shoreline was among those sullied by the in 2010 ranked last out of 30 states measured for beachwater quality.

However, since the ranking was based on bacteria sampling in the waters, the problem was not solely attributable to the devastating oil spill, the NRDC said.

Instead, the main problem across most of America's beaches is polluted -- with more than 10 trillion gallons of untreated storm water making its way into surface waters each year, according to US estimates.

"The biggest known cause of beach closings and swimming advisories is polluted storm water runoff," said Fleischli.

"When it rains, the water carries trash, chemicals, oil, animal waste -- you name it -- off the paved streets of our communities into sewers and ultimately to our beach."

The environmental group appealed for tougher EPA standards on beach water quality and improved measures to halt runoff pollution and sewer overflows.

"EPA believes it is acceptable for one in 28 swimmers to become ill with gastroenteritis from swimming in water that just meets its proposed water quality criteria," said NRDC.

"This risk is unacceptably high and is not protective of public health."

As many as 3.5 million people get sick from coming in contact with raw sewage from sanitary sewer overflows every year, the EPA says.

The NRDC also listed the best beaches for quality. The top beaches were in the northeastern states of Delaware (Dewey Beach) and New Hampshire (Hampton Beach State Park and Wallis Sands Beach).

Other five-star ratings went to Newport Beach in California, Ocean City Beach 6 in Maryland, and Gulf Shores Public Beach in Alabama.

No Florida beaches made the top 12 that received the five-star rating.


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(c) 2012 AFP

Citation: US beaches laden with sewage, bacteria: study (2012, June 27) retrieved 20 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-06-beaches-laden-sewage-bacteria.html
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Jun 27, 2012
God damn USA!

Jun 27, 2012
Uh yes...rich Liberal movie stars and other rich Liberals fly down to Acapulco, Cozumel and other hangouts for those who need to get away from the stress and strain of life with maids, gardeners, chauffeurs and Swiss bank accounts....and the occasional Obama campaign contribution dinner party.
While the hoi polloi must settle only for polluted waters of Red Hook, NJ or Staten Island, NY, those filthy rich Liberal/Socialists are living it up on money from making crappy movies.

Jun 27, 2012
That's spelled goers. Why yes, it takes big money to pay a good looking young Mexican masseur to massage your back. Maybe other Mexicans work cheap...but resort masseurs are expensive, as are all the amenities. It takes a lot of money to party with the rich in Mexico. Poor people need not apply.
American beach goers who can't be bothered to read the sign on the beach, "polluted water. Swim at your own risk", can only blame themselves, especially a strange desire to swim where no fish have been detected in years or they float belly-up now and then and only cargo ships and aircraft carriers are passing through the deep water channel.
Ignorance is not limited only to Socialists, you know. There are some who need immediate gratification and actually believe their immunity to disease will carry them through it all. Perhaps it's a need to go back to their amphibian roots.

Jun 27, 2012
As far as a paradise-like nature of California, one must really travel to northern California to enjoy trees. When I was in southern Cal, the hills were bare of trees except for some date palms in developments and gated communities. And a pool in every backyard seemed to be de rigeur....kiddie pools included. Going up through the hills toward the mansions where the filthy rich Liberal/Socialists of the film and TV industry jealously guard their no-so-private lives, you can see their $200,000 cars being readied for their long drive to the studio. It's easy to feel sympathy for them. It must be such a hard life. They are either at their expensive psychoanalyst, or suffering in the stores of Rodeo Drive. An olympic-sized swimming pool and a doxy or two can't even bring happiness to them. So off they go in expensive sun glasses to the airport for a weekend in Acapulco or Cozumel....maybe even the French Riviera now and then.

Jun 28, 2012
Vend, what up with the anti american sentiment? this is not a political website, well a bit, but do you see the bad american hand in every fart that passes?

Jun 28, 2012
Envy is making you bitter.

"Going up through the hills toward the mansions where the filthy rich Liberal/Socialists of the film and TV industry jealously guard their no-so-private lives, you can see their $200,000 cars being readied for their long drive to the studios." - PussyCatTard
- Vendicar_De Idiot

Envy? Bitter? Nopers...I have no desire to have a part of their life. But you might want to check with the Wall Street Occupy mob....they hate rich people...that's bitterness and envy in action.
I wouldn't make a good actress/entertainer/movie star/producer anyway. And I have no use for California....it's so full of crummy Liberal/Socialists swimming in their own sewage.
$200,000 car or $20,000 car...they both depreciate as soon as you drive them off the lot.

Jun 28, 2012
That poor schmoe laying in the filthy sand amid the old tires and garbage washed up onto the beach, not too far from the Manhattan Bridge...you just KNOW he's gonna jump into that water and swim very happily and contented that there is no one else on the beach besides him and the photographer.

What fools these mortals be - Shakespeare from a Midsummer Night's Dream

Jun 30, 2012
Yeah, just compare the USA beaches to places like Mexico and China. And I think you'll be thankful for the clean country that USA is.

So.... let me get this straight: Living in a shitty place is OK as long as there are places elsewhere that are even shittier?

Could you run that type of 'logic' by me again?

Jun 30, 2012
Actually, there are lists on the internet and in magazines of the cleanest beaches in the U.S. These lists are kept for the purpose of providing tourists, mainly, with the best and cleanest places to visit and spend their money. That's why lots of Europeans come to the USA on their holidays (we say vacations), especially when the dollar exchange is favorable to them. As I said before in so many words, beaches next to shipping lanes are filthy and strewn with garbage. The picture shows a shipping lane in NY with heavy traffic on the East River. If you've ever been to NY, you should know this.

Jul 01, 2012
If you've ever been to NY you would NOT swim in the East River. It's just not done.

Jul 03, 2012
We have had the same problem in Britain, give man a nice clean sea and he will make a mess of it.

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