Some of the country's most popular beaches are contaminated by storm water runoff and sewage that could cause stomach flu, skin rashes, pink eye, ear nose and throat problems, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council's annual beach quality report.
The council’s Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, looks at 2011 data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from test results taken at more than 3,000 beaches nationwide and examines pollution factors, water testing practices and public notification systems.
The biggest reason for pollution is sewer runoff that “can be laden with bacteria from animal and human waste,” noted council water program director Steve Fleischili.
The group also created a list of the top 12 cleanest beaches and the top 15 repeat offenders, along with an interactive map of 3,000 other beaches in the nation, that can be searched by zip code.
Some of the top offenders are popular beaches in tourist areas such as California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey.
Some of the cleanest are in Alabama, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota and New Hampshire.