Health. Seine water: what are the risks of swimming in polluted water?


For more than six months now, the non-governmental organization (NGO) Surfrider Foundation has been taking regular samples from the Seine to monitor the bacteriological quality of the water.

Thus, of the 14 tests carried out at Pont de l’Alma and Pont Alexandre III – where the tests will take place – only 1 was “satisfactory” in terms of water quality.

And again, these two-month samples allow us to know the presence of v Escherichia coli (E-coli) and enterococci (intestinal bacteria indicating pollution of faecal origin), whose concentrations were found to be significantly above the legislative limits applicable to bathing water (fresh water).

On the other hand, other types of pollution (chemical, biological, etc.) are not taken into account. For the NGO ” it is becoming clear that athletes participating in the Olympic and Paralympic events planned for the Seine will be swimming in polluted water and putting their health at significant risk “.

What are these risks?

ENT and skin problems…

There are several health risks depending on whether it is skin or eye contact, if the swimmer swallows the contaminated water, etc.

The risk of infection associated with bathing in water of poor microbiological quality therefore primarily results in gastroenteritis (diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting) or dermatitis (plaques, itching, etc.).

Eye, ear or throat infections may also occur. Another danger: leptospirosis.

This bacterial disease, also called “rat disease”, is mainly transmitted to humans through skin or mucous membrane contact with fresh water contaminated with urine.

Will we be able to swim in the Seine?

That’s a big question… Among the projects mentioned by the teams of the city of Paris in order to ensure the safety of the water for bathing, there was in particular the construction of a 50,000 m³ rainwater tank at the level of ‘Austerlitz, resp. connection to sanitary networks of ships and facilities open to the public established along the Seine.

Unfortunately, the stakeholders of the Seine recovery plan, the partners and even the competent authorities do not yet disclose the proper implementation of these measures. », regrets the Surfrider Foundation.

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