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Decrease in Beach Closing/Advisory Days in 2012

THURSDAY, July 4 (HealthDay News) -- There was a 14 percent decrease from 2011 to 2012 in the number of beach closing and advisory days, according to a report from Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Mark Dorfman, M.S.P.H., and Angela Haren, J.D., M.P.P., from the NRDC in New York City, analyzed water quality and public notification data at coastal U.S. beaches in 2012.

The researchers found that there were 20,120 beach closing and advisory days in 2012, which represented a 14 percent decrease from 2011. The decrease was mainly due to a drier beach season in large areas of the continental United States and Hawaii. The largest decrease (−3,960 days) was reported in Hawaii, which reported much less rain in 2012 than in the previous year. Bacteria levels in beachwater exceeded public health standards, causing more than 80 percent of closings and advisories. There was a decrease from 8 percent in 2011 to 7 percent in 2012 in the portion of all monitoring samples that exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency's health standards for designated beach areas. From 2011, there was a 2 percent increase in the number of beaches reporting monitoring results, to 3,672 beaches in 2012. Stormwater run-off was identified as the largest known source of pollution and resulted in 28 percent of closing/advisory days.

"The 2012 results confirm that our nation's beaches continue to experience significant water pollution that puts swimmers and local economies at risk," the authors write. "While beachwater quality standards are critical, ultimately the most important long-term action is to adopt 21st-century solutions that address the sources of beachwater pollution, particularly stormwater run-off."

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