Before You Go to the Beach...
Is the Water Safe for Swimming?
The water at the beach looks clean,but is it? It may be worth your while to find out before you or your children go swimming.Most water at beach- es is safe for swimming.However,you cannot be sure the beach water is safe unless it is tested because your beach water may contain disease-causing microorganisms that you cannot see.
Monitoring of beach water quality by local health and environmental officials is necessary to warn citizens when there is a problem.The United States Environmental Protection Agency's new BEACH Program (Beaches Environmental Assessment, Closure,and Health Program) is designed to help your local government officials provide you with information necessary to protect your health.
How Does Beach Pollution Affect You and Your Family?
Water can be polluted by different things.Trash, such as picnic plates,plastic bags and bottles, and cigarette butts is easy to see.It is often the things we can't see,such as bacteria and other microorganisms,that we need to be more con- cerned about.If you or your family are exposed to these disease-causing organisms,they may make you sick.
Swimming or playing in unsafe water may result in minor illnesses such as sore throats or diarrhea.It also might result in more serious illnesses that may last longer than your vacation at the beach! Children,the elderly and people with weakened immune systems have a greater chance of getting sick when they come in contact with contaminated water.
Where Does This Pollution Come From?
The most frequent sources of disease-causing microorganisms are from sewage overflows, polluted storm water runoff,sewage treatment plant malfunctions,boating wastes and malfunctioning septic systems.
Pollution in beach water is often much higher during and immediately after rainstorms because water draining into the beach may be carrying sewage from over- flowing sewage treatment systems.Rainwater also flows to our beaches after running off lawns,farms, streets,construction sites,and other urban areas,pick- ing up animal waste,fertilizer,pesticides,trash and many other pollutants.Many of these pollutants can end up in the water at our beaches.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention content is free and public domain.
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