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GLIN==> Prescription for Healthy Beaches



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Groups Open 2002 Beach Season With "Prescription" for Reducing Beach
Closings

With the official opening of the Great Lakes beach season on Friday,
citizens' groups are today releasing "A Prescription for Healthy Beaches" to
help people understand what they can do to reverse the trend of mounting
beach closures.

Today's announcement follows Lake Michigan Federation research released
after the close of last year's beach season showing a record-high 601 beach
closings from bacterial pollution around Lake Michigan, the largest lake
within U.S. borders.

"Beach closings from bacterial pollution are reaching disturbing highs,"
said Federation Executive Director Cameron Davis. "If we want Great Lakes
beaches to continue to be a major national asset, there are easy things each
of us can do in our lives to be part of the solution." The lakefront is a
major international attraction, receiving an estimated 60 million visits in
Chicago alone, for example, every year.

The Prescription outlines a number of steps individuals can take to keep
beaches open:

*	The first step is to educate yourself about the health threats and
sources of bacterial contamination that cause beach closings. Potential
health threats from swimming the day after millions of gallons of untreated
wastewater were released to Lake Michigan in August last year led dozens of
people to pull out of a prominent Chicago triathlon.

*	Second, reduce sources of pollution in your own life that can
contaminate waterways. For example, the Prescription suggests cleaning up
after your pet, properly disposing of food during beach visits that can
attract animals that leave behind waste, and reducing manure-based
fertilizers on lawns that can runoff into area sewers.

*	The third step is for those who want to have a more far-reaching
impact to work with their local sewage and health agencies to identify and
eliminate sewage overflows to the Great Lakes. People can do this by
volunteering for local Adopt-a-Beach programs.

Last year's Federation research showed that Illinois closings
skyrocketed-339 closings in 2001 compared to 10 in 1994-with nearly 2
billion gallons of untreated wastewater discharged to the lake as a result
of severe storms. Indiana experienced a record-high 92 closings and
advisories, largely corresponding with Chicago's sewage discharges.
Wisconsin closings continue on a general upward trend despite fewer closings
from 2000, while Michigan registered some good news: with six new counties
testing, closing numbers rose only moderately from the previous year. Recent
studies show that when beaches close, communities can lose millions of
dollars in tourism income.

Beaches can be forced to close by local officials 
when bacteria levels exceed health standards. People can come into contact
with dangerous germs from animal and human waste when heavy rains overwhelm
treatment plants, thereby causing the need for sewage and runoff overflows
into area waterways. Pathogens from animal and human waste can cause
vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, giardiasis, rashes, and pink eye.
Everyone who heavily uses nearshore areas for recreation are at risk when
untreated wastewater is present, but children may be most susceptible if
they put contaminated sand in their mouths.

The Prescription is online at
www.lakemichigan.org/beach_center/prescription.pdf in Adobe Acrobat format.
People can contact the Federation's Citizen's Center for Beach Health at
www.lakemichigan.org/conservation/beach_health_index.asp for more
information about beach closings and what to do to help.
# # # # #
Formed in 1970, the Lake Michigan Federation is the oldest citizens' Great
Lakes organization in North America. Its mission is to restore fish and
wildlife habitat, conserve land and water, and eliminate pollution in the
watershed of the largest lake within the United States. We achieve this
through education, research, law, science, economics, and strategic
partnerships. www.lakemichigan.org

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