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 situated in Zona Sul's beaches are found to be contaminated, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Showers situated in Zona Sul's beaches are found to be contaminated, photo by Phillie Casablanca/Flickr Creative Commons License.

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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  1. That’s nasty stuff! I would have taken it for granted they are clean so I am quite surprised myself. Rather than chlorinating the water, it would be far more efficient and cost effective to add granular activated carbon filters to each source pipe, a few feet below each shower head. As much time as Brazilians spend at the beach (and me when I visit!), this should be considered a national emergency. Also, with all of the tourism Brazil is going to see in the next four years, people EXPECT those things to be in operating order, as most foreigners think of “beaches” when they think of Brazil. Good luck.

  2. Absolutely horrendous! you also see people filling up there kids paddling pools with this very water… although I’m not sure the sea water is much cleaner is it?
    Dirty deck chairs
    Dirty sea water
    Dirty shower water
    Dirty sand
    …..Why do some on us live in Rio again?…..

  3. Hah! that’s a funny joke about INEA. They are too busy extracting bribes from land owners for permission to build (or cut trees). Their concern of public health or the environment is just a false-face front. It’s all about the money.

  4. I’ve spent 3 of the last four summers in Copacabana, so I’m
    an American who knows what this topic refers to. Thankfully,
    whenever I was on the praia, I never used those shower pipes. I’d
    just sit down on the walkway, and dust off the sand from my feet, and
    go back to my apartamento.

    This is one more thing that Municipal Gov’t Authorities have to resolve
    way before the Olympics or World Cup arrive, or face more bad
    publicity about the poor infrastructure of the city.


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