With summer officially here, it’s time to grab some blankets, a good book, and a pair of flip-flops and head to the beach. But as anyone who has ever hit the water in or near a metropolitan area knows, water quality can be a major concern. If the waves are full of debris and toxins, that can mean a long, hot day on the sand with no chance to cool off. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, as many as 3.5 million people get sick every year from contact with raw sewage from overflows. Dangers related to exposure to polluted beach water include stomach flu, pinkeye, skin rashes, meningitis, and hepatitis.
Using new data from the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Daily Beast wanted to find out which beaches to avoid this summer. To find America’s Dirtiest Beaches, we referred to the NRDC’s ratings for 200 of the country’s most popular beaches. Beaches were considered as listed by the NRDC, so data from more than one monitoring station for a single beach were averaged to give each beach a single star rating and percentage of water samples exceeding national standards. All beaches with less than two stars were ranked based on the percentage of water samples exceeding national standards. For full explanation of stars and data compilation, see NRDC’s complete ratings here.