woman on beachAccording to a new report released this week by the Natural Resources Defense Council, there were 25,000 beach closings or “swimming advisory days” in 2006. That’s 28 percent more than in 2005, and the highest number since they started keeping records on that sort of thing. Some 1,300 days of closings were attributed to sewage spills and overflows, and even more were closed because of “fecal contamination,” which reminds me of that gross-yet-informative Flushie video that I posted on a while ago.

According to the report:

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Exposure to bacteria, viruses and parasites in contaminated beach water can cause a wide range of diseases, including ear, nose and eye infections; gastroenteritis; hepatitis; encephalitis; skin rashes; and respiratory illnesses. Most waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States occur during the summer, when Americans are most likely to be exposed to contaminated beach water. Experts estimate that as many as 7 million Americans get sick every year from drinking or swimming in water contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites.

Uh, yeah. Plus, it’s nasty. And of course, children, the elderly, and the already-sickly are the most susceptible to diseases that they catch from swimming in contaminated water. And while there were problems in every beach-having state in the union, the worst beaches were in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Minnesota. There’s a list of the best and worst specific beaches here.

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