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10 facts about the Great Smog of London in 1952
6:00am Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
The Great Smog took over London on this day in 1952.
Lasting for four days and having profound effects on the lives of Londoners, the ‘Big Smoke is regarded as the worst ever air pollution in this country.
Here are 10 facts about the Great Smog of ‘52 which you might not know:
- The smog occurred after a period of cold snowy weather. It resulted in people burning low-quality sulphurous coal to stay warm. Around the same time an anticyclone was hanging over London which trapped cold air and chimney smoke close to the ground.
- Particles and gasses from power stations, vehicle exhausts and industrial pollution blown over from Europe were also trapped.
- Pollutants included carbon dioxide, hydrochloric acid, fluorine compounds and 800 tonnes of sulphur dioxide.
- The yellow-black coloured smog did not disperse due to windless conditions.
- With visibility reduced to just a few yards, effects of the smog included major disruption to public transport, emergency services and outdoor sports events.
- A rise in crime was reported, with crooks using the blanket of fog to burgle properties and rob people struggling to get around.
- Smog masks were could be bought from chemists.
- It was reported at the time the smog had caused between 4,000 and 6,000 death, though more recent studies put the toll at around 12,000. The victims were very young, elderly and people with respiratory or heart problems.
- Press reports claimed cattle at Smithfield had been asphyxiated by the smog.
- The lethal smog prompted new regulations on fuels and emissions to reduce air pollution and a push to get homeowners to adopt alternative heat sources such as gas fires.
Do you have any worries about London’s air pollution today? Is enough being done to keep the city clean? Add your comments below.
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