More than half of American beaches have high levels of E. coli bacteria at least one day a year. The bacteria, present in animal and human waste, get into water from waste treatment plants or storm water runoff. Beaches in the Gulf Coast, West Coast and Great Lakes regions had more than the average number of high-bacteria days.
While Massachusetts beachgoers may be worried about sharks this summer, environmentalists are warning about a much smaller organism. E. coli, a bacteria present in animal and human waste, could hurt many more people—and it shows up on half of America's beaches, according to new research from Environment America and the Frontier Group.
Half the beaches in the U.S. have at least one day per summer season in which it's not safe to swim because of elevated bacteria levels in the water, according to a report the group released recently. Some states had it much worse. In Louisiana, all of the 24 beach sites sampled were potentially unsafe for at least one day last summer. In Mississippi, all 21 of 21 beach sites sampled were.