Report Ranks Calif. 20th of 30 States for Levels of Bacteria on Beaches
California ranked 20th out of 30 coastal states for daily levels of E. coli and other bacteria on its beaches in 2012, according to a report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Kinney, San Jose Mercury News, 6/26).
Beach water pollution can cause various waterborne illnesses in swimmers, such as:
- Stomach flu;
- Skin rashes;
- Ear, nose and throat problems;
- Respiratory ailments; and
- Neurological disorders.
Such illnesses can be fatal to individuals with weak immune systems, such as small children and older residents (NRDC release, 6/26).
Details of Contaminated Beaches
According to the report, 52% of California beaches exceeded daily maximum levels of bacteria at some point in 2012 (NRDC report, 6/26).
The report ranked beaches in Contra Costa County as the worst in the state, finding that they exceeded daily maximum bacteria levels 17.3% of the time last year.
It ranked San Mateo County beaches as the second-worst in the state, finding that they exceeded daily maximum bacteria levels 16.5% of the time in 2012.
According to the report, one segment of San Mateo County beaches -- called Pillar Point-Capistrano -- exceeded daily maximum bacteria levels 52% of the time.
Researchers also highlighted several "repeat offenders," or beaches that have had persistent contamination problems within the past five years, including:
- Avalon Beach in Los Angeles County;
- Doheny State Beach in Orange County; and
- Poche County Beach in Orange County (San Jose Mercury News, 6/26).
According to the report, the sources of contamination were:
- Unknown 92% of the time;
- Sewage spills or leaks 5% of the time; and
- Storm water runoff 4% of the time.
Details of Non-Contaminated Beaches
Meanwhile, 111 state beaches did not exceed daily maximum levels of bacteria in 2012, the report found (NRDC report, 6/26).
The report also highlighted three Orange County beaches as "superstar" locations that received the highest cleanliness rating, including:
- Bolsa Chica Beach;
- Newport Beach; and
- San Clemente State Beach (NRDC release, 6/26).
On Wednesday, KPCC's "KPCC News" reported on the NRDC study (Totten, "KPCC News," KPCC, 6/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.