You can rest easy when the hit the beach this Fourth of July weekend, y’all: Several New Jersey beaches were just named among the cleanest in the country, in a new report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The group looked at pollution and water quality at beaches across the country, naming 35 “superstar” beaches that have the lowest levels of contaminants and which have met the water-quality safety thresholds for the past five years. The state of New Jersey beat out the rest for having the most beaches—seven—named to the list. They include Washington Avenue beach in Margate, 40th Street beach in Avalon, 40th Street beach in Sea Isle, 96th Street beach in Stone Harbor, Webster Avenue beach in Strathmere, Orchid Road beach in Wildwood Crest, and Broadway beach in Point Pleasant. Dewey Beach in Delaware also made the list.
Only one New Jersey beach made the “repeat offenders” list—a roundup of the “17 U.S. beaches have stood out as having persistent contamination problems, with water samples failing to meet public health benchmarks more than 25 percent of the time each year from 2009 to 2013,” according to the report. That beach is Beachwood Beach West in Ocean County, near Tom’s River.
It should be noted that the Environmental Protection Agency changed its beach-water assessment threshold this year, raising the protective standard of beach-water quality in an effort to make beaches even safer for public use. This new, higher threshold meant that, overall, 10 percent of beach water samples taken nationwide last year fell below it, a slight uptick from 2012 when old benchmarks were used.
However, the added precautions are merited: According to the EPA, 3.5 million people get sick each year from coming in contact with raw sewage from sanitary overflows. Listen to this: “Beach water pollution nationwide causes a range of waterborne illnesses in swimmers including stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, ear, nose and throat problems, dysentery, hepatitis, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders, and other serious health problems. ”
Yuck. See you at 40th Street, my friends.
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