On Tuesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council released its annual Testing the Waters report, which lists the most polluted beaches at the country’s oceans, lakes and bays.
The worst offenders have been on the list for several years, with contamination levels exceeding national standards anywhere from 60% to 90% of the time. The top beaches for contamination include Shired Island, Florida; Kings at Stacy Brook, Massachusetts; and Joerse Park in Indiana.
The report lists the number of days that beaches were closed or that contamination warnings were issued. This year’s number, 20,000, is one of the highest in the 19-year history of the report. The full report also shows how often each beach checks its contamination level. While the majority perform checks every day, others lack the funds and only check the water a few times a week, so contamination levels may actually be higher than reported at some beaches.
The biggest culprit of beach pollution: stormwater run-off and poorly designed sewage systems. For those of you as grossed out as I am right now, don’t worry. The report also lists the beaches that are the cleanest.