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Most American Beaches Are Covered in Poo

Beach

Sorry campers, but most of the beaches in America are covered in poo and not the Winnie kind. According to a report released by Environment America, 55% are covered in feces. So when you see a picture like the one above that shows what purport to be pristine beaches just know that they are likely contaminated.

Could be all those people who walk their dogs by the beach. Or this could be because of people who have nowhere to go so they swim out to where the water is above their chests to do their thing. Or maybe it is the remnants of raw sewage contamination.

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Whatever the reason, beware of beaches because it does not matter what the source was.

The people behind the study explained that fecal contamination from sources such as urban runoff, sewage overflows and factory farms can contain pathogens that threaten the health of swimmers, or that force beaches to be closed to protect public health.

Their study found that in 2022, 1,761 out of 3,192 tested beaches nationwide (55%) experienced at least one day on which fecal contamination reached potentially unsafe levels. This exceeds the EPA’s most protective “Beach Action Value,” a conservative, precautionary tool states can use to make beach notification decisions.

And to make matters worse, some contaminations can come and go which means that even those beaches that tested clean might very well be polluted at times.

So, where are the most dangerous places to swim? Not surprisingly, America’s Gulf Coast came in at number one with 84% of the area’s beaches contaminated. And you should also avoid the Pacific coast where contamination levels hit 70%. That is except for the Pacific states of Alaska and Hawaii, where their combined average was just 24%. But you should avoid the entire Gulf area around Anchorage where the level hit 100%.

Pathogens are microorganisms that can cause disease, and they can be found in stormwater runoff, sewage overflows, and manure from industrial livestock production. When these pathogens enter waterways, they can make swimmers sick.

Stormwater runoff is rainwater that flows over land and picks up pollutants as it goes. These pollutants can include bacteria, viruses, and parasites from animal waste, as well as chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides. When stormwater runoff enters waterways, it can contaminate the water and make swimmers sick.

Sewage overflows occur when sewers become overloaded and the waste backs up into streets and waterways. This waste can contain a variety of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites. When sewage overflows into waterways, it can make swimmers sick.

Manure from industrial livestock production can also contain pathogens. When manure is spread on fields, it can run off into waterways during heavy rains. This runoff can contaminate the water and make swimmers sick.

So, if you are planning to swim in a waterway, it is important to check the water quality before you go. You can find water quality information on the websites of local health departments and environmental agencies. If the water is not safe to swim in, it is best to find another place to cool off.

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