Swimmers should avoid 500 European beaches, lakes and rivers for health reasons, says the European Commission, after a survey of nearly 20,000 sites. From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, and the North Sea to the Black Sea, 96 % of European Union coastal waters and 90 %of lakes and rivers meet minimum quality standards.
The European Environment Agency tested 13,741 coastal and 6,867 inland swimming sites. France and Italy, which have far and away the greatest number of swimming sites at some 2000 and 5000 respectively, also have the highest number that failed tests. France had the highest number of failed sites at 129, followed by Denmark (68), Italy (56), the Netherlands (46) and Poland (44). Spain, which has almost as many sites as France, failed just 15, with 14 sites in Britain and 11 in Belgium also on the list.