With the Summer Olympics set to take over Brazil in August of this year, issues surrounding water pollution along some of Rio’s beaches and waterways are being cast into the media spotlight. For years, surfers and beachgoers who frequent Rio’s gorgeous shorelines have complained of falling ill due to poor water quality. Prior to the start of the Rio Pro last year, the WSL was forced to cancel their backup venue due to pollution issues.
In a scathing report published by the Associated Press—who referenced a pair of water-quality studies of the area taken over the past year, including samples taken from Guanabara Bay, home to many Olympic events—high viral levels from untreated sewage were found, leading many countries and their athletes to protest to governing bodies.
So just how polluted are these beaches and waterways? “We’re talking about an extreme environment, where the pollution is so high that exposure is imminent and the chance of infection very likely,” said Kristina Mena, a waterborne virus expert and professor of public health at the University of Texas. “Those virus levels are widespread. It’s not just along the shoreline, but it’s elsewhere in the water. Therefore, it’s going to increase the exposure of the people who come into contact with those waters.”
Last year, Kelly Slater said that he believed the contamination level of Rio’s water made him sick.
Experts have likened swimming in the waters where the samples were pulled to swimming in raw sewage, resulting in “an extreme environment, where the pollution is so high that exposure is imminent and the chance of infection very likely.”
Read more at http://www.surfermag.com/features/contaminated-water-plagues-rio/#LJUKIF7Z5ZYTS2XW.99