Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Behind the name misty city of London

In the 19th century, the smog of coal gas caused the deaths of thousands of people in London, England.

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During the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, London was famous for its thick fog, which appeared in November. It was the result of air pollution, not the drizzle or the winter gray sky. In the work of Bleak House by writer Charles Dickens, he described: "Smoke flows down from the chimneys, forming a soft soot rain, every grain as big as snowflakes".
A foggy day covered an area of London in 1932. Photo: New York Times.
By 1800, the population in London was about one million. This number increased rapidly and reached 2 million in 1830. With the development of canals, railways, the city became an economic center with industries such as paper, printing, chemicals, gas. and leather. Hundreds of people went to the city to look for work, leading to the development of the suburbs. In the winter, the houses burn coal fire, blowing sulfur into the air.

London's smog is mainly caused by the dust of coal fires and the toxic emissions from factory chimneys. Combined with the humidity of the air during the day the weather changes, sulfur has created toxic gas layers, pale yellow.

When Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, mist prevented her from moving, whether on foot or by carriage. An 1892 study found that, between 1886 and 1890, London had an average of 63 foggy days a year. On gloomy days, some sly children carry homemade torches, guide gentlemen and ladies to walk in the dark alley and collect fees, even looting.
People cover their faces to fight the fog. Photo: Mirror.
Weaving through the crevice of the window, the dirt creates greasy deposits on the interior and clothes. Polluted air enters people's throat and lungs, causing drivers to constantly spit and rinse their mouths with brandy. Trees were also bare and withered when the fog of London covered every leaf.

The peak in December 1952, when the weather suddenly turned cold in England, families continuously used a coal burner, leaving sulfur particles and soot stuck in the air, mixed with fog, swooping down the ground. At this moment, the view of London seems to be zero. Schools and businesses were closed, vehicles were inactive, and people in the capital couldn't see their feet clearly. Severe air pollution is called the Great Mist, causing thousands of deaths across the city.

After the dense toxic fog, most families in London turned to natural gas and other low-waste fuels. By 1956, the Clean Air Act forced industries, civil and commercial to treat emissions, not to use coal as fuel. However, the law only takes many years to take effect. In December 1962, a thick fog appeared again, causing the death of 750 people.

Today, the city no longer appears pale yellow clouds and the atmosphere of rotten egg smell. With its long history, culture and rich cuisine, London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

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