Safe Swimming: The Best (and Worst) Beaches

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That refreshing dip in the ocean might not be as fresh as you thought. The Natural Resources Defense Council released its annual report today on water contamination, and 10 percent of the samples taken nationwide failed federal safety standards. According to the NRDC, exposure to bacteria, viruses and parasites in the water can cause infections, rashes, respiratory illnesses and even hepatitis. 

In New Jersey, Beachwood Beach in Ocean County is one of the worst offenders in the country: 52 percent of water samples exceeded EPA safety standards.

As for New York City's public beaches, here are the five best and six worst places to take a dip, with the percentage of samples taken at each location that exceeded federal standards: 

Top Five:

1.        Rockaway Beaches, from 9th St to 149th, Queens (0%)
2.        Orchard Beach, Bronx (0%)
3.        Breezy Point, 219th St, Queens (0%)
4.        Midland Beach, Staten Island (2%)
5.        Coney Island Beach, West 16-West 27th Streets, Brooklyn (4%)

Bottom Six:

1.         Wolfe's Pond Park, Staten Island (19%)
2.         Cedar Grove, Staten Island (17%)
3.&4.   Coney Island Beach, W. 8th St. To Pier, and Coney Island Beach, Brighton 6th — Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn (tied at 9%)
5.&6.   South Beach, Staten Island, and Coney Island, West 28th to West 37th Streets (tied at 8%)