Pat Shingleton: "Only the Blind Could Navigate."
As noted in a previous column, October 1948 found smog in the Monongahahela Valley in western Pennsylvania that killed 20 and affected 2,000. Respiratory disorders were caused by oxides of nitrogen, halogen acids and zinc. The worst episode occurred on this date in London for four days in 1952. Stagnant air prompted sulfur dioxide and particulate concentrations to reach deadly levels. The smog was so thick that Londoners couldn't see their hands with outstretched arms, traffic stopped and only the blind could navigate. Nearly 100,000 residents became sick as deaths from bronchitis and influenza increased ten times leaving 4,000 dead. Four years later, Parliament enacted the British Clean Air Bill as the burning of bituminous coal was banned.