Study Shows Beach Contamination Numbers Are On The Rise

A recent analysis of US beaches revealed a very alarming truth—that of bacterial contamination in a widespread form.  Of those sites tested, more than half showed to exceed the federal safety threshold at least once in the year 2018.

Think tanks Environment America Research and Policy and Frontie Group published the data culminated from the analysis on Tuesday.

Image: Environmental Protection Agency

In the report, the groups highlighted urban runoff, sewage overflows and industrial livestock operations and the real threat they each pose to both America’s beaches as well as public health.

Co-author of the report and director of Environment American’s program for clean water, John Rumpler, spoke with Huffpost, stating:

“All too often, our beaches have pollution that puts swimmers at risk.  That’s just totally unacceptable.”

In 2018, more than 4,500 beaches were sampled, and of those included almost 60% showed to have potentially unsafe levels of fecal bacteria, a disease-causing substance, on at least one test day.

Image: newportharvest

The report also indicated that 610 sites, approximately 13% of those tested, showed a 25% elevation in bacteria counts for each day that they had been tested.

As a benchmark and control method, the organizations involved in the study used the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Beach Action Value.”

The value was a threshold established in 2012, as a precautionary guide, that was created to aid states and territories in decision making when it comes to deciding about issuing beach advisories or even closures.

Under this precautionary guide, a site such as a beach would be seen as “unsafe” for water recreation if the levels of Enterococci and E. Coli bacteria—two common organisms present in fecal contamination—failed to meet the standards of the EPA.

According to the overall findings, contaminated and deemed unsafe for use water resulted in 871 beach closures nationwide with more than over 10,000 advisories issued last year.