Tags: rio | olympic | water | polluted | tests

Rio Olympic Water Far More Contaminated by Sewage Than Previously Thought: AP

Image: Rio Olympic Water Far More Contaminated by Sewage Than Previously Thought: AP
A piece of a toy doll is seen on Fundao beach in the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 30, 2015. (Sergio Moraes/Reuters)

By    |   Wednesday, 02 Dec 2015 02:22 PM

The Rio Olympic water, in which athletes will be competing in sailing, rowing, and canoeing events next year, is far more contaminated by sewage than previously thought, according to results from a series of tests commissioned by The Associated Press.

The tests showed high viral counts found along the shorelines where raw sewage runs, according to the AP. They also, in some cases, revealed high bacterial counts.

The worrisome contamination levels were detected offshore, as well.

In August, 13 U.S. rowers became ill at a test trial and a team physician suspected the sicknesses were caused by pollution in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, where the event took place, ESPN reported via the AP. But, at the time, U.S. Rowing CEO Glenn Merry told Reuters it was too early to blame the illnesses on pollution.

The AP first published information about the Rio Olympic water's high viral levels in July, but the Rio de Janeiro state government and environmental officials brushed it off, saying that it "is unfair to judge Rio's waters based on viral counts, limits of which are not designated in Brazilian legislation," according to the AP.

After considerable back and forth flip-flopping regarding whether to conduct viral testing on Rio waters, the World Health Organization said in October that it will recommend only bacterial testing and not viral, as there is "a lack of standardized methods and difficulty interpreting results" for routine testing of viruses, the AP reported.

"Not recommending 'routine' viral testing is not analogous to WHO recommending that Brazil do nothing and that WHO is unconcerned with viral pathogens in water . . . In fact, we have experts engaged on examining the best monitoring protocols and we will be discussing virus testing at an upcoming meeting in Brazil," the agency told the AP in an emailed statement in late October.

Rio de Janeiro's waters are contaminated because the city's sewage is untreated and flowing into Guanabara Bay, the Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon, and the Copacabana Beach.

The news agency stated that Brazilian officials have admitted that they will not be able to improve the city's sewage sanitation as they previously promised to do when the city won the rights to host the Olympic Games.

"Considering the Olympics are less than a year away and Rio de Janeiro won the right to host the games partially due to a promise to clean the city's waterways, this is a concerning development," wrote Scott Polacek, of The Bleacher Report.

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The Rio Olympic water, in which athletes will be competing in sailing, rowing, and canoeing events next year, is far more contaminated by sewage than previously thought, according to results from a series of tests commissioned by The Associated Press.
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2015-22-02
Wednesday, 02 Dec 2015 02:22 PM
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