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Report: Illinois beaches 1st in bacteria levels
Associated Press
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Published: 7/29/2008 3:56 PM

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A new report says Illinois has the most coastal beaches in the country with water samples exceeding acceptable levels of bacteria, such as E. coli.

The report from the Natural Resources Defense Council found 23 percent of samples taken in 2007 from Illinois beaches along Lake Michigan exceeded levels considered safe for swimming. Nationally, 7 percent exceeded the limits.

Exposure to E. coli can lead to dysentery, hepatitis and other illnesses.

The environmental group's report partly blamed overwhelmed sewage systems. It also cited seagull droppings at some Illinois beaches.

The report notes that a state's high ranking doesn't necessarily mean it isn't addressing the problem. It says Illinois, for example, tests its beaches more frequently than many states.