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Blue-skies thinking

Our air is cleaner than at any time since the industrial revolution. But there are new challenges ahead

By Iarla Kilbane-Dawe   September 2007

It’s the first Friday of December 1952 and Winston Churchill has just been re-elected prime minister. The rationing of tea has finally come to an end and Londoners are looking forward to Christmas. After weeks of cold, breezy weather, the winds suddenly die and a thick fog envelops the capital. People stoke fires to keep warm, and smoke from homes, trains and factories starts to build. By Monday night, 700 people are admitted to hospital suffering from choking and coughing fits and heart problems.

For five days, there is no wind and the black smoke, sulphur dioxide and sulphuric acid…

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