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Pollution Took Heavy Toll at U.S. Beaches in 2010
Date:6/29/2011

By Randy Dotinga and Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporters

WEDNESDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- As the summer gets into full swing, a new report Wednesday warns that water pollution can make a day at the beach no day at the beach.

Last year was one of the worst in two decades for pollution-related beach closures and warnings, partly due to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and rainy weather, according to the report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental activist group.

Going to the beach is "a summer rite of passage, but, unfortunately, it can also make you sick," David Beckman, director of the council's Water Program told a morning press conference Wednesday.

"America's beaches have long suffered from pollution, including bacteria-laden human and animal waste," he added. "The biggest known source of this contamination is polluted stormwater runoff."

This contamination can make people sick with the stomach flu, rashes, pinkeye, dysentery, hepatitis, ear, nose and throat problems, and other diseases, Beckman said.

The report, the 21st annual Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, analyzed government data on beachwater test results from more than 3,000 beaches nationwide. As in past years, the report found that much of the beachwater is contaminated from oil, and human and animal waste.

Beaches -- including inland ones not near an ocean -- were closed or warnings were issued for 24,091 days in 2010, an increase of 29 percent from 2009, making it the second worst year in the last 21 years. Much of the contamination was the result of sewage spills and stormwater runoff, exacerbated by heavy rainfall in Hawaii and unknown sources of pollution in California, according to the report.

The massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill played a major role, too, often closing beaches in the Gulf region. The report also noted that the BP spill cont
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