England’s air pollution, from the industrial age to now

England’s air pollution has been a worrying issue since the industrial period, where populous towns and cities were covered in smog from factories.

Coal was the main source of energy for British people from the 1760’s to the mid 19th Century, which saw a rise in the number of people suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis. This was a trend that effected the old and very young, as their bodies are not strong enough to fight against toxic air pollutants.

The worst affected areas were North of England, South Wales and the Midlands. The Great London Smog of 1952 was a disaster that resulted in around 8000 deaths in a single week. It was during this time that the term ‘smog’ was coined- a mix of ‘smoke’ and ‘fog’ which is still seen on some days in the colder months across Europe.

Looking at England’s big cities today, pollution in the form of carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide, gets trapped in large towns that are surrounded by building blocks and skyscrapers, making it hard for these harmful gases to escape.

The World Health Organization reports that countless urban areas around England, with Scunthorpe (North Lincolnshire) being notably notorious, exceed the guidelines of what is accepted as relatively clean air.

Although the Clean Air Act of 1968 saw a switch from the use of coal to cleaner-burning fuels and more fuel-efficient vehicles, a higher population and more cars on the road today means that the UK government will have to enforce stricter policy to lower emissions.

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