Nature can give us hard time and if Nature decides to take our misdoings and turn against us, the end result is always disastrous. The Great Smog of London is just the perfect example of that. ‘Nature plus pollution equating to about 12,000 dead in a single city’ – can it be anything short of a disaster? No, definitely not! In this article on Great Smog facts, we will take a look in what happened, when it happened and why it happened and we will also take a look at the consequences of the events. So, let’s get started…
Interesting Great Smog Facts: 1-6
1. The Great Smog of London is also known by two other names – ‘Great Smog of 1952’ and Big Smoke.
2. As the name suggests, the Big Smoke happened in 1952. It started on December 5 that year and ended on December 9 the same year. When the weather changed, the smog dispersed quickly.
3. Weather back then was cold. However, other conditions were present. The conditions were windless and it was an anticyclone weather condition.
4. The conditions led to formation of a thick smog over the city of London. The condition was worsened by airborne pollutants in the city. The pollutants came from coal usage.
5. The weather was so cold that the people of London started burning more coal than they usually did to keep themselves warm.
6. The problem was that it was a time after the war (World War II). Britain’s economy was totally shattered and it was one of many reasons why Britain’s colonial era came to an end.
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Interesting Great Smog Facts: 7-13
7. Because of the economic hardships, Britain had to export high quality coal known as ‘hard coal’. For domestic use, Britain used the low quality coal which had high sulfur content.
8. Burning high amounts of the low quality coal only increased the amount of Sulfur Dioxide in air. To top that, London had several power stations in the Greater London area which were powered by coal. Some of the power stations were located in Battersea, Greenwich, Bankside, Fullham, Kingston upon Thames etc.
9. These power stations also used the same low grade coal of sulfurous variety for generating power. As a result, they too added to the Sulfur Dioxide content in the air.
10. Research during the later periods suggested that during the smoggy period in London, every day the local people and the power stations collectively released:
- Smoke particles: 1,000 tonnes.
- Hydrochloric acid: 140 tonnes.
- Fluorine compounds: 14 tonnes.
- Sulfur Dioxide: 370 tonnes.
11. It is said that the Sulfur Dioxide released during those days eventually converted into 800 tonnes of Sulfuric acid.
12. On December 4, the conditions in London were windless. That’s when the anticyclone settled over the city. This resulted in what is known as temperature inversion.
13. Because of the temperature inversion, a layer of stagnant cold air got trapped under a warm air layer. As that happened, the cold temperature persisted and people started burning more coal.
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