Beginning in the 1950s plastic pipe, most notably that made of polyvinyl chloride, has been used in ever increasing amounts. In the following decades, other plastics were introduced into pipe manufacture. However, by the last years of the century a number of plastic-pipe failures had occurred. Problems were attributed to defective manufacture and, in some cases, a chemical reaction taking place between the material used to make the pipe and chlorine in the water that it carried. These events led to class action lawsuits and a general reevaluation of the use of this inexpensive and easily worked alternative piping material.

Those who attempted to bring plumbing indoors faced technical as well as attitudinal challenges. Decisions on how wastewater was removed required as much concern as those made to ensure an adequate water supply. But equally vexing was the prevailing miasma theory of disease, which held that illnesses stemmed from "bad air" that was readily identifiable by its offensive odor. This led to a distrust of early indoor plumbing that tended to leak and a deadly fear of the sewer gas that accompanied the leaks. It is no wonder then that many individuals maintained a strong belief that elimination was best taken care of out of doors.

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