Bancessi, A., Catarino, L., José Silva, M., Ferreira, A., Duarte, E. & Nazareth, T. (2020) Quality assessment of three types of drinking water sources in Guinea-Bissau.International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 17(19), 1-15. DOI:10.3390/ijerph17197254 (IF2020 3,390; Q2 Environmental Sciences)
The lack of access to safe drinking water causes important health problems, mainly in developing countries. In the West African country Guinea-Bissau, waterborne diseases are recognised by WHO as major infectious diseases. This study analysed the microbiological and physicochemical parameters of drinking water in the capital Bissau and its surroundings. Twenty-two sites belonging to different water sources (piped water, tubewells and shallow wells) were surveyed twice a day for three weeks, in both dry and wet seasons. Most of the microbiological parameters were out of the acceptable ranges in all types of water and both seasons and tended to worsen in the wet season. Moreover, in Bissau, the levels of faecal contamination in piped water increased from the holes to the consumer (tap/fountain). Several physicochemical variables showed values out of the internationally accepted ranges. Both well sources showed low-pH water (4.87–5.59), with high nitrite and iron levels in the wet season and high hexavalent chromium concentration in the dry season. The residual chlorine never reached the minimum recommended level in any of the water sources or seasons, suggesting a high risk of contamination. Results reveal a lack of quality in the three water sources analysed, coherent with the high number of diarrheal cases in the country. There is an urgent need to improve sanitarian conditions to reduce the disease burden caused by these waterborne illnesses.