The beaches in the United States are subjected to more environmental land contamination and water contamination than many beach-goers probably realize. A recent study shows that contamination is still a big problem at beaches in the United States. Beaches in the southeast and northeast regions of the country have the cleanest ratings. Louisiana, perhaps unsurprisingly, has the country's highest rate of beach contamination.
Every year the Natural Resources Defense Council releases a report gauging the health of America's beaches. The most recent report based on information from 2010 and 3,000 beaches from around the country concludes that bacterial contamination remains a major health risk to beach visitors. Even though going to the beach is a popular summer activity, many people risk getting sick when they visit.
Beach water contamination can cause waterborne illnesses like dysentery, stomach flu and pink eye. Beach health in the United States was significantly worse last year than the previous year. The number of beaches that were closed rose by almost 30 percent and the number of beach closings last year was the second highest in two decades.
Human and animal waste run-off accounted for 70 percent of beach closings last year. Oil was also a major factor. British Petroleum's unprecedented oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year hit beaches in Louisiana hard. Louisiana has the highest rate of contamination with 31 percent of its beaches affected.
Ohio was the next worst state for beach health with 21 percent of its beaches in jeopardy. The states with the best beach health were New Hampshire and Delaware. The cleanest region overall was the southeast.
Source: Reuters, "Contamination still a big problem for U.S. beaches," Paula Rogo, 6/29/11