35 Superstar Beaches (And 17 You Might Want to Reconsider)
If one of your favorite summertime activities is a trip to the nearest beach (or a vacation to the shore), then you’ll want to read this.
How healthy is your beach? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
In its 24th annual beach report released yesterday, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) designated 35 popular U.S. beaches across 14 states as “superstars.” Beaches were rated on how closely they met water quality safety benchmarks; the superstars met the standards 98 percent of the time during the past five years.
But before perusing the list of 35, think about this: why aren’t all U.S. beaches superstars?
The fact is that 10 percent of the water samples collected in 2013 from nearly 3,500 coastal and Great Lakes beaches contained levels of bacteria that failed to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s most stringent benchmark for swimmer safety, as outlined in EPA’s newly created “Beach Action Value.”
“Sewage and contaminated runoff in the water should never ruin a family beach trip,” said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine. “But no matter where you live, urban slobber and other pollution can seriously compromise the water quality at your favorite beach and make your family sick.”
The report card, Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, confirms that serious water pollution continues to be a problem at many U.S. beaches. Sewage overflows and stormwater runoff persist as the biggest known sources of contamination. According to EPA, up to 3.5 million people get sick annually from contact with raw sewage from sanitary overflows. Exposure to contaminated beach water causes waterborne illnesses in swimmers such as stomach flu; dysentery; hepatitis; respiratory ailments; rashes; pinkeye; ear, nose and throat problems; and neurological disorders.
“This means two things,” said NRDC attorney Noah Garrison. “First, people need to make sure they know what’s in the water at the beaches they visit, and to choose their beach carefully.”
To help choose your beach, here are NRDC’s 35 superstar beaches:
Alabama: Gulf Shores Public Beach in Baldwin County
Alabama: Gulf State Park Pavilion in Baldwin County
Alabama: Dauphin Island Public Beach
California: Newport Beach in Orange County (1 of 3 monitored sections)
• Newport Beach—38th Street
Delaware: Dewey Beach-Swedes in Sussex County
Florida: Bowman’s Beach in Lee County
Florida: Coquina Beach South in Manatee County
Florida: Fort Desoto North Beach in Pinellas County
Georgia: Tybee Island North in Chatham County
Hawaii: Hapuna Beach St. Rec. Area in Big Island
Hawaii: Po’ipu Beach Park in Kauai
Hawaii: Wailea Beach Park in Maui
Massachusetts: Singing Beach in Essex County
Maryland: Point Lookout State Park in St Mary's County
Maryland: Assateague State Park in Worcester County
North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Main St. and Sunset Blvd. in Brunswick County
North Carolina: Beach at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Dare County
North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Salisbury Street in Wrightsville Beach in New Hanover
North Carolina: Ocean Pier at Ocean Blvd. and Crews Ave. in Topsail Beach in Pender County
New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park in Rockingham County
New Hampshire: Wallis Sands Beach at Wallis Rd. in Rockingham County
New Hampshire: Wallis Sands State Park in Rockingham County
New Jersey: Washington (Margate) in Atlantic County
New Jersey: 40th St. (Avalon) in Cape May County
New Jersey: 40th St. (Sea Isle City) in Cape May County
New Jersey: Stone Harbor at 96th St. in Cape May County
New Jersey: Upper Township at Webster Rd. in Cape May County
New Jersey: Wildwood Crest at Orchid in Cape May County
New Jersey: Broadway (Pt. Pleasant Beach) in Ocean County
New York: Long Beach City in Nassau County
Virginia: Virginia Beach at 28th St. in Virginia Beach County
Virginia: Virginia Beach at 45th St. in Virginia Beach County
Virginia: Back Bay Beach in Virginia Beach County
Virginia: Virginia Beach—Little Island Beach North in Virginia Beach County
Washington: Westhaven State Park, South Jetty in Grays Harbor
The report also includes a list of 17 repeat offenders, with the Great Lakes region having the highest failure rate for water quality samples, and Ohio rating worst among the states where water samples were drawn. Sections of these beaches have persistent contamination issues, and water quality samples failed to meet health standards more than 25 percent of the time over the past five years.
Here are the 17 repeat offenders:
California: Malibu Pier, 50 yards east of the pier, in Los Angeles County
Indiana: Jeorse Park Beach in Lake County (both monitored sections):
• Lake Jeorse Park Beach I
• Lake Jeorse Park Beach II
Massachusetts: Cockle Cove Creek in Barnstable County
Maine: Goodies Beach in Knox County
New Jersey: Beachwood Beach in Ocean County
New York: Main Street Beach in Chautauqua County
New York: Wright Park—East in Chautauqua County
New York: Ontario Beach in Monroe County
Ohio: Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula County
Ohio: Arcadia Beach in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Euclid State Park in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Noble Beach in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Sims Beach in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Edson Creek in Erie County
Wisconsin: South Shore Beach in Milwaukee County
How to eventually make all U.S. beaches superstars? NRDC offers evergreen solutions such as protecting streams and wetlands and boosting green infrastructure.
NRDC's infographic illustrates how natural solutions can keep beaches clean:
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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