Can Air Pollution Kill You? Yes, It Can!

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A Brief History

On December 5, 1952, the people of London, England found out the hard way that smog is no joke.  Air pollution, cold weather, fog, lack of wind and a phenomenon known as an anticyclone combined in such a manner that huge quantities of smoke from factories and furnaces, largely from the burning of coal, was left lingering over the city.

Digging Deeper

The noxious smoke, at first believed to not be dangerous, even penetrated buildings, causing people respiratory distress.  Londoners called the episode, which lasted until December 9 when the weather finally cleared, “The Great Smog of 1952,” or simply “The Big Smoke. ”  It is estimated that 4,000 Londoners died of smog-related problems and that 100,000 more suffered various respiratory afflictions.  Researchers believe that, in the meantime, 12,000 deaths can be attributed to the incident.

If you live in a big city, an industrialized area or any place prone to developing smog, you better believe it, smog can kill you!

Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever encountered smog?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Dawson, Kate Winkler.  Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City.  Hachette Books, 2017.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by N T Stobbs from of Nelson’s Column during the Great Smog of 1952, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.