An etching by William Heath depicting a woman dropping her tea-cup in horror upon discovering the monstrous contents found in a magnified drop of Thames water. In the nineteenth century, sewage and waste contaminated the River Thames in London, making it a prime source of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
Waste water often contains residue of different substances flushed out of homes. In the area of Puget Sound, a team from the University of Washington found traces of spices and flavourings in the sound’s inland waterways – artificial vanilla being the most pronounced of all the flavours. On average, the team found an about six milligrams of vanilla per litre in the water sampled.
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