The London Smog Disaster of 1952. Early on 5 th of December 1952 the London sky was clear, the weather was considerably colder than usual, as it had been for some weeks. As a result the people of London were burning large amounts of coal and smoke bellowed from the chimneys. The winds were light and the air near the ground was moist, conditions ideal for formation of radiation fog .
The 4000 deaths which resulted from the smog can be attributed primarily to;
People with bronchitis and other respiratory conditions such as asthma wheezed to their deaths in their beds. Most deaths were a result of respiratory and cardiac distress. Many victims died in their beds from asphyxiation because of the smog.
Since that time the adverse health effects of smog have been identified, including:
An increased number of deaths
Increased hospital admissions and sick days
Short term decrease in breathing ability and increase in chest pains
Inflammation of the lungs and damage to respiratory cells
Permanent lung damage and reduced quality of life due to ozone.
Increased number of asthma attacks due to nitrogen dioxide.
London Smog 1991 From the 12 th to the 15 th of December 1991 a mass of stagnant winter air settled over London trapping beneath it hazardous mixture of fumes and particles. It was estimated that this smog caused around 160 more deaths than normal for this time of year. Cardiovascular and respiratory deaths both increased, meaning only the most severe effects of the smog are shown by statistics. Long term effects such as neurological and cancers are also not considered in the smog’s death toll. (1)
The following timeline highlights the most important dates in the history of air pollution control in the UK
1946 - First smokeless zone and prior approval legislation
1952 - Major London Smog .
1956 - Clean Air Act : Introduced smoke control areas and controlled chimney heights. Prohibited emission of dark smoke from chimneys, with some exceptions.
1968 - Clean Air Act : Extended the smoke control provisions of the 1956 Act and added further prohibitions on dark smoke emissions.
1973 - Motor vehicles (construction and use) Regulation .
1974 - Control of Pollution Act : Allowed for the regulation of the composition of motor fuels. In addition, the Act limited the amount of sulphur used in fuel oil.
1989 - Air Quality Standards Regulation : EU regulations.
1990 - Environmental Protection Act : Brings many smaller emission sources under air pollution control by local authorities for the first time and establishes system of integrated pollution control for the most potentially polluting industrial processes.
1991 - Recent London Smog of significance.
1991 - The Road Vehicle Regulation : Set standards for in service emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons to be included in the MOT test for petrol car and light goods vehicles.
1995 - The Environmental Act : This provides a new statutory framework for local air quality management. The Act requires publication of a National Strategy which will set air quality standards and targets for the pollutants of most concern.
1997 - The National Air Quality Strategy : Commitments to achieve new air quality objectives throughout the UK by 2005. Reviewed periodically.
2000 - The National Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland : Second National Air Quality Strategy published with new air quality objectives for local authorities.
The Great London Smog galvanised the government to clean up the nation’s air and as a consequence the first clean air acts were introduced.
1956 Clean Air Act.
This Act was directed at domestic sources of smoke pollution authorising local councils to set up smokeless zones and make grants to householders to convert their homes from traditional coal fires to heaters fuelled by gas, oil, smokeless coal or electricity.
The 1968 Clean Air Act; Tall Chimneys
This act brought in the basic principal for the use of tall chimneys for industries burning coal, liquid or gaseous fuels.
Thanks partly to pollution legalisation but also to slum clearance, urban renewal, and the widespread use of central heating in the houses and offices of Britain pea-soupers have become a thing of the past.
Unfortunately the smog of 1991 has demonstrated that efforts will need to continue to counter air pollution and protect the environment for future generations
Controlling pollution in Mexico City Day Plate Ending Digit Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Provisional Circulation Permits.