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London Great Smog

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Overview


London was overwhelmed by a great smog, also referred to as the Big Smoke, starting on December 5, 1952, and lasting until December 9, 1952. This catastrophic event caused or advanced the death of as many as 12,000 people and was an important impetus to the modern environmental movement.

Toxicological Perspective


The Great Smog spurred an unprecedented public health movement and prompted the founding of numerous government entities charged with installing governmental regulations to prevent future harm.

Causes


Starting in December of 1952, a cold spell befell London. People began to burn more coal as the temperature dropped, and air pollution from burning coal was trapped by an inversion layer and the concentration of pollutants increased dramatically. The smog was so thick that it impaired driving and easily entered homes.

Concern about the smog was relatively minimal as many Londoners were accustomed to heavy fogs. However, medical teams discovered that more than 12,000 people had died, and public officials became more aware of the importance of clean air. The event led to passage of the City of London (Various Powers) Act of 1954 and the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and later of 1968 in the USA.

External Links


Met Office UK - Great Smog

BBC Article on the Great Smog

Great Smog  - Wikipedia

References


Dooley, Erin E. "Fifty Years Later: Clearing the Air Over London." Environmental Health Perspectives 110: A748.

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