Beaches were deemed unsafe on at least a quarter of days tested and climate crisis will likely increase the pollution
Before diving into the waves this summer, beachgoers in the US might like to do some homework on what they will be diving into, according to a new report.
The Environment America Research and Policy Center (EARPC) found that more than half of American beaches were home to potentially dangerous levels of fecal bacteria at some point last year.
The Safe for Swimming? report contains analysis of data submitted to the National Water Quality Monitoring Council from 29 states and Puerto Rico. It found that 58% of 2,620 beaches analysed had fecal bacteria levels exceeding the beach action value, a threshold used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for making beach notification decisions, on at least one day in 2018.
A total of 605 sites were deemed potentially unsafe on at least a quarter of days on which water was tested.
Among the worst-offending states were Illinois, Mississippi and Louisiana, where all beaches tested were found to be unsafe on at least one day. Other badly performing states included Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Better-performing states included New Hampshire, where 15 of 47 beaches fell short on at least one day, Maine and Hawaii, which scored 39 of 85 and 90 of 218.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the annual European bathing water report, based on 22,000 sites across EU member states plus Albania and Switzerland, found that around 300 had poor bathing quality.
Peter Kristensen, European water expert for the European Environment Agency, said the two systems were not fully comparable because they use different guidelines.