I'll explore a few locations in the US over the summer and consider swimming in some rivers. How can I assess the water pollution in rivers in the US, preferably before going to the location of interest? Ideally I'd like to input the location (e.g.) and have a clear answer: polluted/non-polluted.

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    Why was this downvoted? It seems to be a good question and since swimming is an activity travellers do a lot, it's also on-topic. It would also make a good fit at The Great Outdoors, but that doesn't warrant the downvotes.
    – gerrit
    Jun 24, 2022 at 7:47
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    Be careful with rivers, BTW. The flow does kill good swimmers.
    – gerrit
    Jun 24, 2022 at 7:48
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    I agree that, while unusual or even quirky, this is a great question.
    – Fattie
    Jun 24, 2022 at 15:47
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    Look up US Masters Swimming (usms.org) clubs in the area. Inquire (email) with the coach about suitability for open water swimming. Might even find some buddies to swim with, making it safer.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 24, 2022 at 16:44
  • When I was traveling through the Solomon Islands we were told "if the locals swim there it can be assumed safe to swim" - They were referring to salt-water crocs, but maybe can be also used for pollution? (but also maybe not). I think this might be better fit on Great Outdoors SE instead of Travel
    – Midavalo
    Jun 24, 2022 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


There does seem to be a product category for exactly this.

For example



Notice the section,

"Recommended Tests for Open Water Swimming:" / then / "field test kits which provide instant results (these are suitable for fresh water only and are screening tests)" ...

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    This does not answer the 'preferably before going to the location of interest' part of the question. (Still likely a good method when you are at a river and can test.)
    – Willeke
    Jun 24, 2022 at 18:35

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