Fecal contamination in cenotes of Tourist and recreational interest in Yucatan


Exposure to contaminated recreational waters is a public health problem. Fecal contamination is established when
bacteriological assays are positive for total coliforms and Escherichia coli bacteria.

This study´s objective was to establish how generalized fecal contamination was in touristic and recreationally used sinkholes in the Yucatan State,

Mexico. We used an enzymatic bacteriological assay, Colitag® with a detection limit of 1 Colony Forming Unit / 100
mL of sample, this essay is recommended by the US EPA. All sinkholes presented fecal contamination.

The use of sinkholes as swimming pools without any filtration and sanitation system is a public health hazard. If government
programs contemplate to exploit sinkholes as tourism attractions, measures should be taken to develop a technology
that would allow using these sinkholes without a threat to the environment and human health.

Recreational exposure to water contaminated with fecal or other material is a public health problem.

Fecal contamination is determined by the presence of total and fecal coliforms. The objective of the study was to determine how widespread fecal contamination is in cenotes of tourist and recreational interest in the state of Yucatan.

Water samples were taken from 48 cenotes with tourist potential promoted on the Internet. The samples were subjected to a commercial enzymatic test, Colitag® with a detection limit of one Colony Forming Unit per 100 mL of sample. All cenotes showed fecal contamination.

If government policies contemplate the use of cenotes as tourist-recreational centers, these programs should be accompanied by a sanitation policy; cenotes are not swimming pools and should not be used as such, without sanitation systems adapted to the ecology of karst.

Click here to read the full study by Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán in Spanish

Source: Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán

The Yucatan Times