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NC ranks 3rd in beach water quality; SC ranks 26

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The latest report on the health of America’s beaches finds North Carolina in good standing overall, but South Carolina does not fare nearly as well.

The report is put out each summer by the National Resources Defense Council.

North Carolina ranks No. 3 overall for the quality of its beach waters.

Out of the 30 states ranked, however, South Carolina came in at No. 26 for beach water quality.

The healthiest were found in Delaware and parts of Maryland and Virginia.

The worst offenders were those in the Great Lakes region.

About 7 percent of the beach samples from across the U.S. had "unacceptable" pollution levels.

There were more than 20,000 beach closings and advisory days due to dirty water across the country.

The number of closures and alerts issued in 2012 is actually down from the year before because there was less rain and, therefore, less runoff -- one of the major sources of pollution to the country’s waterways.

About 80 percent of the closures were issued because bacteria levels exceeded public health standards, for which raw sewage may be partly to blame.

Illnesses linked to swimming in contaminated water can include upset stomach, skin rashes, ear, nose and throat problems, pink eye, respiratory infections and hepatitis.

Those most at risk of becoming ill from swimming in bacteria-filled water are young children and older adults.

You can find out how a particular beach rates in the latest report by entering the zip code on