The water quality in Rio highlights the global public health concern over untreated sewage

The water quality issues publicized during the 2016 Olympics highlighted the need to better understand the exposures and risks associated with untreated or partially treated sewage. We argue that the focus on testing for a narrow range of specific viral pathogens in addition to standard bacterial indicators is misguided, because the most critical factor in preventing health risks is the degree of sewage contamination, rather than the presence of a small subset of the wide range of pathogens of potential concern. Increased investment in the management and treatment of sewage and the development of tools to track and optimize these efforts is urgently needed.

The water quality in Rio highlights the global public health concern over untreated sewage. Joseph N.S. Eisenberg, Jamie Bartram, and Timothy J. Wade. 2016. Environmental Health Perspectives 124(10): A180-A181. doi:10.1289%2FEHP662.