EPA to update health-hazard reporting standards for U.S. beaches
The U.S. EPA has agreed to update its 22-year-old criteria for reporting beach-related health hazards to the public thanks to a new settlement with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Right now, the EPA’s criteria for assessing ocean-water and beach health are based on the likelihood of beachgoers contracting gastrointestinal illnesses, but apparently that’s just one small part of what befouled ocean water can do to people. The expanded criteria, to be released by 2012, would also calculate the likelihood of beachgoers contracting ear infections, hepatitis, pink eye, and skin rashes; the new standards will also require same-day reporting of results to the public. “The new studies will have to look at the whole range of how people get sick, which will lead to stricter and more protective criteria,” said NRDC attorney Aaron Colangelo. Earlier this summer, NRDC reported that there were 22,571 pollution-related closures or warning advisories on U.S. beaches in 2007, mostly due to runoff and human and animal waste in the water.