WTAP @ 5: To Your Health Report: Dirty Beaches

By: Elizabeth Cohen Email
By: Elizabeth Cohen Email

If you're heading to the beach this holiday week you probably don't have water quality concerns at the top of your list.

But some of our beach water is dirty and may even make us sick.

Elizabeth Cohen takes a look at how our beaches are fairing this year based on a 2013 report on 2012 data in today's Health Minute.

The latest report card on the health of America's beaches finds that for the 3rd consecutive year, there have been more than 20,000 closings and advisory days due to dirty water.

The report is put out each summer by The National Resources Defense Council.

The numbers of closures and alerts for 2012 are actually down from the year before because we had less rain and therefore less runoff, one of the major sources of pollution to our waterways.

About 80 percent of these closures were issued because bacteria levels exceeded public health stardards. Raw sewage may be partly to blame.

Illnesses linked to swimming in contaminated water can include upset stomach, skin rashes, ear, nose and throat problems, pink eye, respiratory infections, and hepatitis.

Young children and older people are most at risk.

About 7 percent of the beach samples from across the U.S. had unacceptable pollution levels. The worst offenders were those in the great lakes region and the healthiest were found in Delaware and parts of Maryland and Virginia.

To find out how your beach rates, you can go to www.nrdc.org/beaches and then plug in the zip code.

For today's Health Minute, I'm Elizabeth Cohen.

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