On sunny afternoons when the water sparkles, only pessimists worry about Jaws lurking under the surface during a trip to the beach. But in truth, your seemingly bucolic swimming spot just might be the site of dangers even Jaws should shun.
And no, the chief dangers aren't rip currents that could sweep you into the deep blue, nor poisonous jellyfish waiting to sting, nor even potentially carcinogenic sunscreens. The dangers we're talking about are those that come from out-of-control beach pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency says that more than 3.5 million people in the US get sick every year after coming into contact with raw sewage at the beach. The raw sewage can be in water that looks perfectly fine for a dip; you don't necessarily know when your swim exposes you to a bacterial nightmare. That's why the EPA says that 3.5 million figure, in reality, might be a gross underestimate. When people get sick after a swim at the beach, they don't necessarily know it's because the water was toxic, which means they don't report it. Jon barron discusses raw sewage at the beach and beach pollution.