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Return to Nonpoint Source Pollution: A Brief History of Pollution

Firefighters battle a fire on Ohio's Cuyahoga River in 1952. The polluted river caught fire on several occasions between 1936 and 1969, when debris and oil had concentrated on the water's surface and ignited. A blaze in 1969 came at a time of increasing environmental awareness and symbolized years of environmental neglect. The Cuyahoga River fires helped spur grassroots activism that resulted in a wave of federal legislation devoted to taking serious action against air and water pollution.

Cuyahoga River on fire in 1969




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