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Science At The Beach
Keeping the Water Cleaner

Go Green Guide
Go Green  

Is the beach you are swimming at safe?

If the U.S. EPA has any say in the matter they will be - or you'll

know about it. New testing techniques will let them determine water quality within hours instead of days.

Swimming in polluted water containing E. coli and/or enterococcus bacteria can cause serious eye, ear, skin and respiratory infections, even diarrhea. However, current water safety tests can take 24 to 48 hours for results - not soon enough to protect swimmers.

That's why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is developing new water safety tests at Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes beaches across America that produce water quality information within two to three hours.

gull strangled by six-pack ring
You can help: dispose of trash to
protect gulls like this one from
becoming snared or strangled
by plastic six-pack rings.


The tests are part of an unprecedented study being launched this summer by the EPA. The National Beaches Study will include water quality testing as well as interviews with thousands of families at each site - with follow-up interviews to see if their health was affected.

The new tests will allow beach managers to test the water in the morning and make reliable, fast decisions about the safety of beach waters within an hour or two, before most swimmers even enter the water.

How you can pitch in to help keep your beach clean and protect the environment

Along with government programs that protect local beaches, here are a few things you can do to help:

  • Dispose of trash properly - use trash cans at the beach or take your trash home with you.

  • Cut the rings off plastic six-pack holders so that animals (like gulls, fish, turtles or seals) can't get tangled in them — leave no solid plastic loops.

  • Join local beach, river or stream clean-ups.

safe beachesHow clean is your beach?

Click on your location, below, for recent information on how your state or local government is helping to keep neighborhood beaches clean and safe. These detailed reports from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader:

Alabama | Alaska | California | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii
Illinois | Indiana | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota |Mississippi | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New York | North Carolina | Ohio | Oregon Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | Texas | Virginia | Washington | Wisconsin


More about clean oceans and beaches around the Web:

U.S. EPA: Beaches

NRDC: Clean Water & Oceans


also see in Beaches ->  World Beaches  |  USA Beaches


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