Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, the National Resources Defense Council provides a total buzzkill with its 24th annual guide to water quality at American beaches.
While millions of Americans are shedding their winter layers and reacquainting themselves with the freedom of scanty clothing, the report warns that 10 percent of all water samples from beaches last summer failed to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety standards.
The warning is based on water samples conducted at nearly 3,500 beaches.
According to the EPA, the main pollutants are industrial and agricultural chemicals, microscopic pathogens and sewage.
The report also addresses storm water runoff, which sends oil, pesticides and other pollutants down waterways to the ocean.
Throw in marine debris, plastic litter and poorly maintained septic tanks and the hazards sound at least as threatening as your friendly neighborhood shark.
Environmentalists advise families not to swim for one day after a rainstorm or several days after a heavy downpour.
The good news is that the NRDC website (http://www.nrdc.org) has a list detailing the water quality history of the areas around prominent beaches.
The not-so-good news is that the results are at least a day old.
That tends to take the spontaneity out of the moment, especially for die-hard romantics.
I mean, could you imagine Deborah Kerr interrupting that passionate kiss with Burt Lancaster on the beach in “From Here to Eternity” because of EPA test results?
As the warm waters of Hawaii wash over Deborah and Burt, we hear Deborah’s proper English tones abruptly informing Burt that she has to leave him to take a shower.
After a crushing defeat like that, Burt undoubtedly would flee back to his “Elmer Gantry” co-star Shirley Jones. Fire was more of a factor than water in that movie.
Then there are all those public pools, hot tubs and water theme parks.
The Centers for Disease Control mandates chlorine and pH level checks at all public pools every day.
The CDC also advises users of public pools to use the restroom every 30 minutes.
Perhaps this is wise counsel, but it’s another buzzkill.
Has anyone at the CDC ever tried to pull down a wet bathing suit and then try to pull it up into a socially acceptable position again?
Then again, it’s preferable to knowing that Junior just went wee-wee in the wa-wa.
These concerned scientists have given the resulting medical malady a name —Recreational Water Illness.
The symptoms of RWI include skin, eye, ear and respiratory problems, as well as diarrhea.
Look, no one intentionally swallows pool or ocean water, but sometimes it just happens.
What do the researchers expect all those Floridians to do? Create a giant Brita filter for the Gulf of Mexico?
When we’re warned not to drink the water, it’s usually in reference to the water in some other country.
If any of this scares you, you could always put on your bikini, go into your backyard and have your boyfriend pour Dasani over your head straight from the bottle.
Wow, what fun.