June 22 – A River Catches Fire!

Posted on June 22, 2016

How does a river “catch fire”? By being polluted. Really, really polluted.

On this date in 1969, a river fire on Ohio's Cuyahoga River caught the attention of the folks at Time magazine.

This river was one of the most polluted in the United States. Some sections of the river had no fish; the surface was covered with a brown, oily film, and masses of trash and debris sometimes floated atop of the oil slicks.

This is an actual, unretouched photo of what happened,
back in the 1960s, when you dipped your hand in certain
parts of the Cuyahoga River!!!
And there had been many other fires on the river, from 1868 to 1969. The photos used in the Time magazine article were from the largest Cuyahoga River fire, in 1952, because there are no known photos of the 1969 fire. 

But the Time article hit people when they were starting to have concerns for the environment. There was a sudden rush to clean polluted rivers and stop pollution from further damaging waterways. The Clean Water Act was passed, the Environmental Protection Agency was created, and an entire movement was born!

After decades of clean-up efforts, the Cuyahoga River is well on its
way to complete recovery, with more than 40 species of life.

Learn more about water pollution at eSchool Today

Here is a short video about water pollution.

Finally, have you heard about the 19 year old student who invented a way to clean plastic debris out of the ocean? This article will show you his idea, and this update shows that work is being done to bring the idea to life! (The inventor is now 21, I think.)

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