America's Dirtiest Beaches 2013: Is Your Local Beach On The List?

By iScienceTimes Staff on June 26, 2013 5:03 PM EDT

dirty beach
The National Resources Defense Council has released its report card on the dirtiness of more than 3,000 U.S. beaches. (Photo: Flickr: H.L.I.T.)

Your local beach may be contaminated with waste, the National Resources Defense Council says in its report card of more than 3,000 U.S. beaches.

"The water at your local beach might be contaminated by human and animal waste, putting your health at risk," the NRDC says. "Bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in that waste can make exposed swimmers sick."

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In 2012, unhealthy bacteria levels of closed beaches for a combined 20,000 days.

The NRDC says that beach water contamination often comes from stormwater runoff and sewage pollution. After storms, untreated sewage can mix with overflowing sewers, running into nearby bodies of water.  

Exposure to bacteria found in dirty beach water can lead to a whole host of problems. Contaminated water can lead to ear, nose and eye infections, diarrhea, hepatitis and skin rashes, among other things. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that every year up to 3.5 million people become ill from contact with raw sewage in contaminated beach water.

Last week, the NRDC announced that it intends to sue the EPA in 60 days if it doesn't implement stricter water quality standards.

"Americans don't expect bacteria, raw sewage and dangerous pollution in the water when they go swimming at the beach, but too often the agency responsible for protecting us is falling down on the job," said Steve Fleischli, Director of the Water Program at NRDC. "To keep us healthy at the beach, EPA must raise the bar for what it considers safe to swim. This means improving the nation's weakened water quality standards to make them more protective of our health."

As part of the report card, the NRDC listed its "superstar beaches." Check below to see if your local beach made the list. To search beaches by state, head over to the interactive NRDC map.

Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach

Alabama: Gulf State Park Pavilion

California: Bolsa Chica Beach

California: Newport Beach, 38th Street, 52nd/53rd Street

California: San Clemente State Beach, Avenida Calafia, Las Palmeras

Delaware: Dewey Beach - Dagsworthy

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach - Rehoboth Ave.

Maryland: Ocean City at Beach 6

Michigan: Bay City State Recreation Area

Minnesota: Park Point Franklin Park / 13th Street South Beach

Minnesota: Lafayette Community Club Beach

New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park

New Hampshire: Wallis Sands Beach at Wallis Road

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