Brazilian activists are making a big stink over the fact that Rio de Janeiro still hasn’t cleaned up its sanitation act.
Advocates from the group Meu Rio (My Rio) staged a sit-in at Ipanema Beach on Saturday where they perched on toilets to highlight the sewage and water pollution issues plaguing the city, the BBC reported.
Protesters say this is an opportune time to raise awareness as Rio de Janeiro will be one of the host cities for the World Cup in June and will host the Summer Olympics in 2016.
"We want to take advantage of the movement -- the Olympics are coming, the World Cup is coming. It’s a chance to draw attention, maybe the world can talk about what’s happening here in Rio," Leona Deckelbaum, a campaign coordinator, told the BBC. "It’s unbelievable that there’s not basic sanitation in a city like Rio."
Though Rio’s Olympic committee has pledged to clean up its pollution problems before the games, experts and advocates remain concerned.
In the waters surrounding the site of the future Olympic Park, the average fecal pollution rate is 78 times that of the Brazilian government's "satisfactory" level, the Associated Press reported in November.
One of Rio’s most polluted bodies of water, Guanabara Bay, is surrounded by 15 cities -- many of which are home to struggling people with poor housing and no sanitation or garbage collection, the BBC reported earlier this month.
Additionally, nearly 70 percent of Rio's sewage goes untreated, leading to concerns about potential health risks to the athletes participating in the World Cup and the Olympics.
"The high concentrations of untreated human waste means there are pathogens and disease-causing organisms in the water," Dr. Casey Brown, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told the AP. "If I were going to take part, I would make sure all my shots were up to date."