By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Recent tests have shown that water emitted from chuveirinhos barraqueiros (beach showers) in Zona Sul (South Zone) are not treated and can pose serious health risks. Analysis conducted by microbiologists has exposed traces of sewage contamination in samples of water collected from showers on Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana and Leme beaches.
Showers found on the beach are not currently subject to regulation and, as a result; do not contain chlorine which sanitizes the water. Instead, the contaminated water harbored traces of fecal coliform, which develops in human feces and can cause serious diseases such as Hepatitis A, Salmonella, Typhoid and Gastroenteritis.
Microbiologist Fernanda Drumond de Paula finds the results extremely worrying, “The amount of bacteria found in three samples is above three thousand colony forming units per milliliter, a volume so high that we can count no more [from it].”
Danielle Bila, water testing specialist and Head of Engenharia Sanitária da UERJ, the department for Sanitary Engineering, confirms these fears, adding “All samples have evidence of sewage. Imagine the risks for those [whose] immune system is less efficient.”
Another issue under investigation is water waste. Calculations show that the showers remain on for 15 minutes at a time, with an average water flow of 144 liters during that time, which in one year, totals 52,500 liters.
Unfortunately, it is, as yet, unclear as to who the responsibility of shower maintenance should fall upon, though it is argued that the State Environmental Institute (INEA) should install properly treated public showers fitted with timers.
Contrastingly, the Comitê Orla Rio, responsible for dealing with issues related to Rio’s beaches has implied that the showers use water from aquifers, which are the responsibility of the State Government.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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