The Rio Olympics Just Took Another Turn for the Worse

August 2nd 2016

Taylor Bell

With news of Rio de Janeiro's sewage infested waters already concerning many athletes and health experts, there is now another pollution problem to worry about at the Summer Olympic Games.

According to a report by Reuters, the Olympic host city's air quality is "dirtier and deadlier" than many were led to believe.

In fact, the air above the car-clogged city is so bad that it has regularly exceeded the World Health Organization's limits for PM 10, or particulate matter 10, a type of pollutant that is so named because it's smaller than 10 microns, even narrower than a strand of human hair.

As it stands, the city has the dirtiest quality of any Olympic host city since the 1980s, with the exception of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


A photo posted by Rio 2016 (@rio2016) on

In a 2014 study, researcher and professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Jane Mullins found that exposure to certain levels of particulate matter can affect athletic performance, particularly in track athletes.

“This is definitely not ‘Olympic air’,” said Paulo Saldiva, a University of Sao Paulo pathologist and member of the World Health Organization committee told Reuters. “A lot of attention has been paid to Rio’s water pollution, but far more people die because of air pollution than the water. You are not obligated to drink water from Guanabara Bay but you must breathe Rio’s air.”


A photo posted by Rio 2016 (@rio2016) on

According to Reuters' report, thousands of people die each year from "complications" related to Rio's air. Those who are exposed the city's air have increased risk of getting lung cancer, lung cancer and other illnesses.

The air pollution in Rio is part of a much bigger problem.

Last week, some aquatic sports athletes who will be competing in the waters around Rio were advised to keep their mouths shut to avoid ingesting water-borne pathogens. Much like the air pollution problem, Rio's Olympic planners promised that preparing for the Games would also help clean up pollution in the water. Both promises have been proven empty in the weeks leading up to the competition. Athletes have also complained that the Olympic Village was "uninhabitable."

And ATTN: previously reported, the country as a whole continues to struggle with increased inflation, unemployment, and fear of the Zika virus.