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Dead ZonesThe Loss of Oxygen from Rivers, Lakes, Seas, and the Ocean$
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David L. Kirchman

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197520376

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197520376.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 September 2021

The Great Stinks

The Great Stinks

(p.1) 1 The Great Stinks
Dead Zones

David L. Kirchman

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses one of the first dead zones, the River Thames near London in the 19th century. London used the river as a sewer to dispose of untreated human waste and garbage, causing oxygen to disappear and gut-wrenching odors to well up, shutting down the city in the summer of 1858, aka the Great Stink. The sewage also carried pathogens that contaminated drinking water. The chapter also points out that dead zones were common in other rivers near large cities, including the Delaware River south of Philadelphia. Wastewater treatment solved the problem, and oxygen has returned to the River Thames, the Delaware River, and many other urban rivers in rich countries. Also discussed is the fact that fish and other aquatic life have also returned, but not completely. Adequate dissolved oxygen is essential, but more is needed to make a habitat livable and to ensure the complete recovery of aquatic life.

Keywords:   Great Stink, River Thames, Delaware River, wastewater treatment, cholera, Clean Water Act, sewage

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