Community Life
Beach Contamination


Beach Contamination

What does this measure?

The percentage of water samples from public and semi-public (i.e. campgrounds, hotels, country clubs) beaches tested by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that were found to have greater levels of bacteria than what is considered safe for bathing.

Why is this important?

Essex County has many of the over 1,000 marine and freshwater public and semi-public bathing beaches in the state. Clean beach water helps to fuel tourism and provide recreation activities for residents, contributing to the overall well-being of the community.

How is our county doing?

In 2017, 4.3% of the water samples tested from local beaches exceeded the level of what is considered a safe amount of bacteria for bathing. This is higher than the state rate of 3.9% in 2017 and a decrease from their rate of 5.5% in 2004. Within the county, Saugus, at 19%, had the highest rate in 2017 - with the next-highest rates of 17% in Danvers.

How do we compare to similar counties?

Middlesex, MA, at 4.8%, had a higher rate of beach contamination than Essex County in 2017.

Notes about the data

No data available for Lake County, IL or Westchester County, NY.

Beach Contamination
20042005200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017
Essex County, MA5.5%6.2%6.4%5.7%8.3%10.5%8.9%9.0%5.5%7.7%5.6%6.8%4.3%4.3%
Amesbury9.7%0.0%5.4%0.0%4.9%3.6%1.6%1.4%0.0%4.2%0.0%6.3%1.7%4.0%
Beverly4.8%1.6%7.7%8.1%7.0%14.2%12.6%10.7%6.6%9.2%9.0%7.9%5.0%7.0%
Gloucester4.8%0.0%0.0%0.0%3.5%3.2%5.0%2.6%1.4%1.1%0.0%0.0%2.1%3.7%
Haverhill0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%8.3%
Lynn35.6%38.2%26.4%17.9%44.9%48.1%25.3%36.9%13.7%17.5%12.3%24.4%17.0%7.8%
Methuen3.3%1.8%0.0%4.9%17.4%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%8.3%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Newburyport0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%3.1%0.0%7.1%0.0%0.0%8.8%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Salem5.9%7.8%11.5%9.9%1.7%7.0%6.1%4.5%2.0%5.8%3.5%4.5%0.0%7.2%
Andover0.0%3.1%4.8%4.4%4.2%0.0%0.0%5.7%0.0%7.7%0.0%1.6%1.7%1.7%
Boxford0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%7.7%0.0%2.3%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Danvers10.5%42.1%22.2%28.6%7.7%16.7%17.6%26.7%14.3%13.3%12.5%10.5%6.3%16.7%
Essex11.3%2.0%2.1%4.8%7.5%0.0%6.3%8.8%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Georgetown18.2%31.6%4.5%7.1%9.5%5.6%12.5%5.0%10.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%5.3%0.0%
Ipswich0.0%0.0%0.0%2.6%0.0%2.9%4.2%2.9%0.0%3.4%3.4%0.0%0.0%1.7%
Manchester0.0%2.6%6.4%4.1%8.8%4.8%11.5%7.5%9.2%3.2%1.5%1.6%1.6%
Marblehead6.2%12.2%8.4%2.4%1.2%16.4%13.1%6.3%7.1%12.0%5.8%4.0%2.8%1.4%
Middleton7.1%0.0%9.1%7.1%6.7%0.0%0.0%6.3%0.0%0.0%17.6%11.8%0.0%0.0%
Nahant1.1%9.2%10.5%3.7%4.5%3.5%4.5%6.8%6.0%7.5%2.3%2.8%2.9%1.5%
Newbury0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%50.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
North Andover2.4%4.5%2.4%5.0%7.3%15.6%11.5%3.8%0.0%22.2%14.3%3.7%0.0%2.4%
Rockport0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%8.3%0.0%0.0%0.0%2.5%
Salisbury0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%8.6%3.0%0.0%0.0%
Saugus17.2%13.3%16.7%3.3%18.9%5.9%12.1%27.7%21.6%9.4%18.9%8.6%3.3%18.9%
Swampscott0.0%7.7%3.4%7.6%3.2%9.7%12.0%10.0%7.8%5.4%1.4%7.7%2.7%5.3%
Topsfield0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Wenham0.0%0.0%6.7%0.0%18.8%15.4%21.4%7.1%0.0%0.0%4.2%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Middlesex County, MA4.3%6.1%4.2%3.0%6.2%2.3%4.9%6.9%3.0%5.3%3.9%5.5%3.4%4.8%
Massachusetts4.0%4.3%4.3%3.1%4.9%5.0%5.1%5.8%3.5%4.9%3.5%4.5%3.2%3.9%

Source: Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Notes: Rate represents the percent of samples exceeding bacteria threshold.




Number of Samples Exceeding Bacteria Threshold
20042005200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017
Essex County, MA79881029012214412813685122891137071
Amesbury30403211030412
Beverly821110102019168121312710
Gloucester50002242110024
Haverhill00000000000001
Lynn2121191753503938314128664620
Methuen210815000001000
Newburyport00000104006000
Salem131522193121083857011
Andover01233003050111
Boxford00000010100000
Danvers28641234222213
Essex71123023000000
Georgetown46122131200010
Ipswich00020232022001
Manchester03851261510124222
Marblehead61182120137594221
Middleton10111001003200
Nahant11013454588113442
Newbury00000000002000
North Andover11123531064101
Rockport00000000030001
Salisbury00000000003100
Saugus546172413837317
Swampscott07352798641624
Topsfield0000000000000
Wenham00103231001000
Middlesex County, MA5269503568245478336343674260
Massachusetts603656684483758793789915543755525720506612

Source: Massachusetts Department of Public Health




INDICATORS TREND | ESSEX COUNTY
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Preterm Births Increasing
Infant Mortality Rate Maintaining
Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels Decreasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Child Abuse and Neglect Increasing
Disengaged Youth Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Youth Arrests Decreasing
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Employment Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Charitable Contributions Maintaining
Protected Land Not Applicable
Days with Good Air Quality Increasing
Beach Contamination Decreasing
Daily Water Use per Resident Decreasing
Crimes Against People Increasing
Crimes Against Property Increasing
Drug-Related Arrests Maintaining
Reports of Domestic Violence Increasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Recidivism Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Traffic Injuries and Fatalities Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Change in Total Population Increasing
Change in Population by Age/Gender Not Applicable
People 65 or Older Living Alone Decreasing
People with Disabilities Increasing
Households by Type Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families by Gender Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Change in Total Jobs Increasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary Increasing
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Median Earnings by Occupation by Gender Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving County for Work Not Applicable
Employer Size Not Applicable
Self-Employment Revenue Maintaining
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Prekindergarten Participation Not Applicable
Female Enrollment in School Not Applicable
Chronically Absent Students Increasing
Per-Student Spending Maintaining
Bullying Maintaining
Student Performance on Grade 3 Reading Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math by Student Group Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 10 English Language Arts Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 10 Math Not Applicable
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Bachelor's Degree or Higher by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Income in Relation to Poverty Level Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage Rate by Household Type Not Applicable
Households Receiving Temporary Assistance Maintaining
Households Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Participation in Food Assistance by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Earned Income Tax Credit Participation Maintaining
Economically Disadvantaged Students Increasing
Median Home Value Maintaining
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Homeownership Rates Maintaining
Homeownership Rates by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeless Persons Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Medical Care Expenses Maintaining
Prevalence of Children with Asthma Maintaining
Prevalence of Overweight Children Decreasing
Prevalence of Overweight Adults Not Applicable
Diabetes Incidence Decreasing
Chronic Disease Among Older Adults Increasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Cancer Mortality Rate Decreasing
Heart Disease Mortality Rate Decreasing
Mortality Rate Decreasing
People who Smoke Not Applicable
Use of Illegal Drugs Not Applicable
Youth Use of Illegal Drugs Not Applicable
Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Not Applicable
Drug Overdose Mortality Rate Increasing
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Suicide Rate Maintaining