By Barbara Kessler

Before dunking yourself in the ocean for a last summer hurrah, you may want to check out the NRDC’s latest report on the state of the nation’s beaches. It found that the number of closings and advisory days along U.S. freshwater and ocean coasts was at the second highest level in 18 years of tracking, mainly due to increased pollution along the Mid-Atlantic region and Great Lakes waters.

The National Resource Defense Council has used the report, “Testing the Waters,” to assemble an interactive map of popular beaches so you can see precisely how your particular sand paradise rated when tested for bacteria in the water from sewage, storm runoff and other pollution.

You’ll need to flip to another page to access the key for the map – not the friendliest design feature – which will tell you to look for blue stars. So if the beach you like to visit is on the map, and it’s won a blue star or even two, then get your boogie board! If not, well, hope your city or state starts doing a better job controlling sewage to minimize accidents and takes steps to mitigate storm water runoff, which the NRDC identifies as the main source of troubled waters. Individuals can help by not littering, fighting chemical runoff with an organic yard and not dumping harsh chemicals down the drain. The NRDC has compiled a surprising number of tips on ways individuals can help.

If your favorite beach destination is lacking in accolades, you can investigate further by reading more of the July 2008 report, which summarizes and explains the 2007 water samplings that form the basis for this year’s report. All told, the NRDC’s analysis found that about 7 percent of U.S. beaches exceeded health standards, a level that has held relatively steady in recent years. But some parts of the country saw noticeable declines in water quality last year, namely Great Lakes’, and New York and New Jersey’s beaches.

Experts say bacteria-ridden waters can lead to some serious health effects for swimmers, such as gastroenteritis, dysentery and hepatitis and possibly, respiratory illnesses as well.

Copyright © 2008 | Distributed by Noofangle Media