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Ever wondered what contaminants are in your swimming hole?

Being that it is summertime, many readers are surely enjoying the warm weather on the beach from time to time. This is all well and good, but have you ever stopped to consider what is in the water at your favorite swimming hole? According to a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a fair amount of beaches across the United States do not stand up to safety standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the report, 10 percent of the water samples taken from various coastal and lake beaches are substandard. What types of contaminants may be found in these waters? Not only bacteria and viruses, which can lead to illnesses like the flu, infections and dysentery, but often also pollution caused by storm water runoff and sewer overflows. 

The report listed various beaches across the United States—a total of 17—which have repeatedly been found to fall below environmental standards for water pollution. Fortunately, no Georgia beaches were listed. In fact, the Tybee Island North beach in Chatham County was listed as one of the beaches meeting quality standards over 98 percent of the time.

Because of the health risks posed by water contamination, it is important for the public to be aware of the possibility and to insist that the agencies responsible for water purity are fulfilling their responsibilities. Sometimes minor changes in infrastructure are all that is required to improve water purity, but it may take some speaking out or legal action before notice is taken. When the latter is the case, it is important to work with an experienced advocate who understands how to handle environmental cases. 

Source: CBS News, “1 in 10 U.S. beaches fails bacteria test in survey,” Steven Reinberg, June 25, 2014. 

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