Gina McCarthy reflects on progress 50 years after Cuyahoga River fire

Friday, April 19, 2019 - 14:51 in Earth & Climate

Fifty years ago, Ohio’s Cuyahoga River was so polluted that it caught fire, becoming a powerful symbol for a U.S. public increasingly concerned about the environmental damage around them. This year, the state of Ohio deemed the river clean enough that its fish are safe to eat. That remarkable turnaround is part of a broader cleanup of the nation’s waters, air, and land that resulted from a suite of laws passed in the early 1970s in response to public abhorrence at episodes like the June 1969 fire, an abhorrence that found expression on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day. Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy, professor of the practice of public health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the School’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, spoke to the Gazette about the Cuyahoga fire and progress in the decades since. She said the...

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