In Brazil's Atlantic rainforest region last month, cities were flooded and watersheds contaminated when some 50 million cubic metres of heavily polluted water was released from an iron-ore tailings pond. The mining company responsible and Brazil's environment ministry should act swiftly to mitigate the human and ecological damage.

The release has deprived some 500,000 people of their water supply. It is likely to damage the entire ecological network through chemical pollution, reduced oxygen availability and high turbidity, further threatening the region's status as one of the world's biodiversity hotspots.

Authorities will need to collaborate with universities on ecosystem restoration and revitalization projects.