'SMOG'  was invented in Britain.
It was in Britain that the word "smog" was first used (to describe a mixture of smoke and fog). As the world's first industrialized country, its cities were the first to suffer this atmospheric condition. In the 19th century London's "pea-soupers" (thick smogs) became famous through descriptions of them in the works of Charles Dickens and in the Sherlock Holmes stories. The situation in London reached its worst point in 1952.
At the end of that year a particularly bad smog, which lasted for several days caused about 6,000 deaths.
Water pollution was also a problem. In the 19th century it was once suggested that the Houses of Parliament should be wrapped in enormous wet sheets to protect those inside from the awful smell of the River Thames. People who fell into the Thames were rushed to hospital to have their stomachs pumped out!
Then, during the 1960s and 1970s, laws were passed which forbade the heating of homes with open coal fires in city areas and which stopped much of the pollution from factories. At one time, a scene of fog in a Hollywood film was all that was necessary to symbolize London. This image is now out of date, and by the end of the 1970s it was said to be possible to catch fish in the Thames outside Parliament.
However, as in the rest of western Europe, the great increase in the use of the motor car in the last quarter of the 20th century has caused an increase in a new kind of air pollution. This problem has become so serious that the television weather forecast now regularly issues warnings of "poor air quality". On some occasions it is bad enough to prompt official advice that certain people (such as asthma sufferers) should not even leave their houses, and that nobody should take any vigorous exercise, such as jogging, out of doors.

Last Updated (Sunday, 21 February 2010 12:46)