Now that summer is here, a trip to the shore should bring familiar smells: seawater, sunscreen and, depending on your beach of choice, sewage.
One in 10 recreational beaches in the United States isn't fit for swimming, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
"Sewage and contaminated runoff in the water should never ruin a family beach trip," Jon Devine, a senior attorney for NRDC, said in a statement. "But no matter where you live, urban slobber and other pollution can seriously compromise the water quality at your favorite beach and make your family sick." [7 Common Summer Health Concerns]
The NRDC released its annual water-quality report card this week based on samples collected last year from 3,485 U.S. beaches along the coasts and in the Great Lakes region. The environmental group found that more than 10 percent of the shores sampled failed to meet new federal recommendations for safe swimming.
The NRDC measured its samples against the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) "Beach Action Value," or BVA, a new threshold for counts of bacteria like E. coli in water samples, which can be an indication of the presence of feces. The BVA is more of a recommendation than a federally mandated standard, and it's more conservative than previous safety thresholds. Had they been held up to the old benchmarks, only 7 percent of the beaches sampled in 2013 would have been deemed too dirty, which is similar to the rate of failure the NRDC has recorded in previous years.