Good News: There’s Only A 99 Percent Chance Of Infection In Rio’s Polluted Olympic Water Venues
Back in April we wrote about the condition of Rio de Janiero's water venues -- you know, the ones that will play host to the aquatic sporting events at the 2016 Olympics. In my favorite photo, hundreds of thousands of dead fish cover the lagoon that is to be the home of the kayaking, canoe and rowing events.
That's because Rio's waters are so polluted, millions of fish die off each year, and so far very little has been done to fix the problem. The streams and channels that feed the waterways are so polluted, it's said that one can smell the stench while flying in to the Rio airport. Rio's sewage is not treated, making places like Rodrigo de Freitas Lake (pictured), which will play host to many of the aquatic events, rife with filth and viruses.
Although the International Olympic Committee says that cleanup is "on track" for the Summer games, and Rio's organizing committee claims that Rodrigo de Freitas Lake has been cleaned up, an Associated Press report this week disputes that.
An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues — results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea.
It is the first independent comprehensive testing for both viruses and bacteria at the Olympic sites.
Some tests measured up to 1.7 million times the level of what it would take to close a southern California beach.
"What you have there is basically raw sewage," said John Griffith, a marine biologist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Griffith examined the protocols, methodology and results of the AP tests.
"It's all the water from the toilets and the showers and whatever people put down their sinks, all mixed up, and it's going out into the beach waters. Those kinds of things would be shut down immediately if found here," he said, referring to the U.S.
Rio still insists the venues will be ready, but you couldn't get me to dip a toe in those waters, let alone roll my kayak.
Kristina Mena, a U.S. expert in risk assessment for waterborne viruses, examined the AP data and estimated that international athletes at all water venues would have a 99 percent chance of infection if they ingested just three teaspoons of water — though whether a person will fall ill depends on immunity and other factors.
— rick (@rickrick888) July 29, 2015
— Aquacote (@Aquacote) July 10, 2015
— Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) June 8, 2015
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