It’s almost impossible to read a newspaper or watch a television news broadcast these days without learning of some outcry for stronger air pollution control measures. We don’t always pay significant attention to the concerns addressed by the people calling for cleaner air.
In fact, most of us can look out the windows and see blue skies most of the time. It’s difficult to imagine we have a need for stronger air pollution control measures.
We’re really lucky.
In 1952, an incident that came to be known as the “Killer Fog” descended over London. It was a thick, smelly cloud of air pollution that settled over the entire city.
London’s Killer Fog of air pollution was so thick buses couldn’t run properly. The bus drivers couldn’t see the road through the fog. People carrying lanterns had to walk in front of the buses, lighting the way for mass transit.
It wasn’t just an inconvenience for bus drivers and commuters, either. This horrendous cloud of air pollution is called the Killer Fog for a reason.
The fog wasn’t confined to the city’s roadways. It permeated the city’s buildings, filling bedrooms and boardrooms with toxic air. Nurseries and hospitals, too.
More than 3,000 people died in that one cloud of poisoned air. That was before London’s air pollution control measures were established.
Before the United States adopted the Clean Air Act of 1963, there were few, if any, air pollution control regulations here, either.
Some of the older residents of Donora, Pennsylvania, probably remember what the air was like before the US enforced air pollution control measures.
In 1948, a cloud of heavy, poisonous air pollution settled over the town of 14,000. It stayed for five days.
Once it finally drifted on, 20 people had been killed by the poisonous air and 6,000 of the town’s residents had become ill.
Today, most of the industrialized nations of the world have adopted air pollution control standards that are pretty strictly enforced. Incidents like London’s Killer Fog and the deadly cloud of poisoned air that settled over Donora rarely happen any more.
Unfortunately, the global population is growing rapidly and the air pollution each one of our lives generates adds up.
Lucky for us, there are many more people paying attention to those newsmakers calling for stronger air pollution control measures around the globe. Their concerns are not exaggerated.