1 in 10 U.S. beaches pose health hazards

Great Lakes, Gulf states worst offenders in coastal and lake beach pollution.

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Water Safety

1 of 10 beaches U.S. beaches unsafe
1 of 10 beaches U.S. beaches unsafe

HealthDay News -- Ten percent of water samples taken from the United States coastal and lake beaches fail to meet public health standards, according to researchers from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“Exposure to bacteria, viruses, and parasites in contaminated water can cause symptoms and diseases ranging from ear, nose, and eye infections to diarrhea, vomiting, hepatitis, encephalitis, skin rashes, and respiratory illnesses,” the NRDC wrote on their website.

Of the nearly 3,500 samples taken annually at beaches across the country, Great Lakes beaches have the highest failure rate (13%), with excessively high bacteria levels, reported researchers.

This finding confirms that water pollution caused by storm-water runoff and sewage overflows persists at many beaches, the agency said. Storm-water runoff often includes trash, chemicals, oil, and animal and human waste as well as bacteria and viruses.

Before patients head to the beach before their summer vacation, advise patients to:

  • Find clean beaches using the NRDC's interactive map
  • Pay attention to contamination and advisory warnings, and stay out of polluted water
  • Avoid swimming at beaches with nearby discharge pipes or at urban beaches after heavy rainfall
  • Stay out of murky or foul-smelling water
  • Avoid beach water if you have an open wound or infection
  • Swim without putting your head under water
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