JEG 2003

Jaarboek voor Ecologische Geschiedenis



Liesbet van Nieuwenhuyse en Dries Tys (Guest editors)

De geschiedenis van industriële technologie en vervuiling




Chloé Deligne

De langetermijngeschiedenis van het afvalbeheer en de watervervuiling in Brussel


[A long term perspective on the history of waste policy and water pollution in Brussels]

Summary The subject of this research is the history of waste policy and water pollution in Brussels from the medieval period to the nineteenth century. It comprehends a combination of a wide and multi period range of approaches. For the medieval and early modern period, research was based mainly on the analysis of town regulations, in combination with the analysis of town topography. For the nineteenth century, research was based on the quantitative analysis of the data in industrial registers. This offers opportunities to give a correct assessment of the actual reach of nineteenth century water pollution. The results of the quantitative analysis can also be compared easily with the current situation.


Henk van Zon

Meten, weten of aanvoelen? Waterverontreiniging in Nederland in de negentiende eeuw: beleving en waarneming


[Measuring, knowing or sensing? Water pollution in The Netherlands in the nineteenth century: awareness and observation]

The aim of the article is to examine the way water pollution in The Netherlands was experienced and to see which means were available for registration of this problem. Most of the research done in that century was qualitative, formulated in terms like “disgusting”, “sickening”, and so on. However, with wordings like that it is for us difficult to experience what our ancestors actually felt and scented. Scientific analyses were rather scarce in that time. The first quantitative recording of water quality was made by G.J. Mulder, who was to be one of the leading chemists of his time. In 1824 he examined the water in and around the town of Utrecht. Shortly thereafter, in 1825, he did the same with the waters in and around Amsterdam. With his data comparison with the results of other researches could be made. In 1853 a disciple of Mulder, the later also well known chemist J.W . Gunning, published his thesis on the chemical disposition of some Dutch waters. Herein he had also analysed some samples taken from the river Rhine near Arnhem. He was aware of the fact that these specimens were totally insufficient to get a good picture. Therefore data from a long period were needed. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century more research was done, amongst others by water companies that used surface waters. The article ends with an account of the State Committee for the Preparation of Measures against the Pollution of Public Waters, set up in 1897. In its report many data are to be found, taken from all over the country. It can be seen as a good starting point for looking at the vicissitudes of the water quality in The Netherlands.


Liesbet van Nieuwenhuyse

Een nieuw spoor voor milieuhistorici. Historisch onderzoek naar potentiële historische bodemverontreiniging door voormalige industriële activiteiten


[A fresh lead for environmental history, Historical research of latent historical soil pollution of past industrial activities: the example of the textile refinement company of De Backer-de Rudder et Cie]

Within the field of environmental history Flemish researchers did nor yet focus on the phenomenon of historical soil pollution. Nevertheless, this current problem fits very well within the discipline of environmental history. With its bleaching, printing, dyeing and mixed activities, 19th and 20th century textile finishing- activities made up a very large and heterogeneous industry. Textile finishing industry is considered a soil threatening industry because of the colours, mordants and solvents which were used. As centre of textile industry, Ghent counted many such companies. The company De Backer-De Rudder was one of those. This article wants to demonstrate how historical research combined with soil research can provide insight into industrial pollutions which started in the past.


Philippe Tomsin

De retrospectieve studie van buiten gebruikgestelde industriële terreinen in Wallonië


[The retrospective analysis of abandoned former industrial sites in Wallony]

This contribution contains the explanation of the method developed by the Centre d’Histoire des Sciences et des Techniques of Liege University to analyse polluted industrial sites in Wallony and to advise the reorganisation of these sites. This method includes the retrospective analysis of the pollution of such former industrial sites, in which historical, topographical and material data and approaches are combined.