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DNA Tests Offer Quicker Results for Beach Bacteria

Just in time for swimsuit season, federal researchers are touting a faster, more accurate water-quality test to keep beaches open and people healthy.

“Water quality can change significantly in 24 hours. This way we’re identifying threats to human health almost immediately,” said Meredith Nevers, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who is studying the EPA’s new DNA test.

An estimated 3.5 million people get sick every year after a trip to the beach because of E. coli or other pathogens from sewage overflows, spills and polluted runoff, according to the EPA. Exposure can cause gastrointestinal illness, skin rashes and infections.

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