Rio Situation Research

Temos uma Questão!

Image: Felipe Dana/AP; from “Sailing with sewage“.

The problem of persistent and increasing water pollution is currently urgent in Rio de Janeiro, but it is a problem shared all over the world. Recently a deluge of toxic waste was unleashed into Colorado’s Animas River (more here, here and here), while less dramatic but perhaps more devastating in the long term is the build-up of plastic debris in the “great Pacific garbage patch” (which is only one of five major gyres in the world’s oceans where debris congregates). Spills from deep sea oil drilling are yet another cause of severe water pollution, with the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 being the largest and possibly still leaking today.


  • Revolucão Guanabara: the first novel by Brasilian playwright, director and writer Marcia Zanelatto was published in 2007, in which she imagines the spirit of Guanabara Bay reacting against its pollution.
  • Dancing with the Devil in the City of God, by Juliana Barbassa, is a recent first-hand account of a Carioca’s return to Rio de Janeiro after years of living overseas. She gives a very good overview of the historical, political, social and environmental context in the run-up to the 2014 Football World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • Rio+Tóxico: a tour of “projects of strong social and environmental impact in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro. The group’s goal is to show that, in the same city that promises to redefine the world’s environmental milestones, a serious of mega projects are in place or being promoted in the opposite direction of the official discourse.”
  • Barcaças do Tempo: short documentary. “Joining a group of fishermen during a workday is the starting point to better understand their labour conditions in Guanabara Bay. The artisanal fishery is threatened in this region due to a number of problems, such as severe fish stock reduction, degradation of creeks by slums, eviction of untreated sewage, the industrialization of the shores of the Bay and the continuous traffic of large vessels.”
  • Images of Rio’s polluted waters
  • Images of pollution in Guanabara Bay
  • “Carioca was a River” – documentary on the river that lent its name to the people from Rio de  Janeiro.
  • Rio Carioca – a website tracing the route of the Rio Carioca from its source in Tijuca Forest to the sewage treatment plant at its mouth into Guanabara Bay.

News articles:

Related research: