‘We’re treating the river like a toilet’: Londoners warned about taking a dip in the Thames as polls show most think it’s safe

The river is in better condition compared to the 1950s, when it was declared “biologically dead” as a result of pollution, but there are better places to cool off, writes Kate Ng

Wednesday 05 August 2020 00:27 BST
The riverbed is exposed at low tide on the foreshore of the River Thames
The riverbed is exposed at low tide on the foreshore of the River Thames

Despite millions of tonnes of sewage that flows into the waters of the Thames each year, more than half of Londoners think the capital’s famous river is safe to swim in.

A poll carried out by Opinium for Tideway, the company building the Thames Tideway Tunnel under London to help clean it up, has revealed that 55 per cent of people who live in London think the river, or at least parts of it, is safe enough to swim in.

The survey also found that 45 per cent would be likely to take a dip in the river to cool off in the event of a heatwave. A fifth of the 1,000 people surveyed said they would rather swim in the Thames than a public pool because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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