The National Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC) annual review of samples taken from over 3,000 popular American beaches revealed that many beaches are not in line with national standards for cleanliness.
Pollution from storm water runoff is said to be the biggest factor affecting the health of our beaches. NRDC’s Water Program Director Steve Fleischli said:
“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.”
According to Fleischli, coming into contact with the contaminated water can cause a wide range of illnesses, including “stomach flu, skin rashes, pink eye, ear nose and throat problems, dysentery, hepatitis, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and other serious health problems.”
The NRDC hopes to influence the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enact tougher standards. Current EPA standards allow for water conditions that cause no more than 1 in 28 people to become ill with gastroenteritis – a standard that the NRDC finds to be lax. In fact, the EPA reports that about 3.5 million people become sick each year because of sewage in the water.
To see how beaches near you ranked, check out the report.