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Reading Comprehension Worksheets
Stinky Air Pollution and the Great London Smog



Stinky Air Pollution and the Great London Smog
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Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.37

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    analysis, emphysema, scentless, tasteless, pneumonia, necessity, tragedy, tuberculosis, cubic, lessen, passive, analyze, ozone, pollutant, respiratory, bronchitis
     content words:    Great London Smog, Clean Air Act, Los Angeles, United States, Air Act, New York City, Washington D. C.


Stinky Air Pollution and the Great London Smog
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Here is a riddle for you. This substance is invisible, tasteless, and scentless. But you can't live without it! If you guessed air, you are right. Clean air is a basic necessity for life. Unfortunately, not everyone has fresh air to breathe. The citizens of London learned a hard lesson about the effects of stinky air when smog caused a smelly catastrophe for their city.
 
2     On December 5, 1952, the London sky was cold and clear. If you were a child in London on that frigid December day, you might have had the chore of shoveling extra chunks of black coal into your fire to warm up your chilly house. As people shoveled coal into their fires, they had no idea that it would cause a tragedy.
 
3     Soon, lots of smoke cascaded from chimneys in the city. Then, the light winds and moist air created a thick, toxic fog over London. No one could see very well. No one could breathe very well. People said that the air was as thick as pea soup! The bad air caused thousands of deaths during the following week. People died from pneumonia and bronchitis. They also died from tuberculosis and heart failure. The Great London Smog was the worst air pollution calamity in history.
 
4     The people of London took action to control air pollution after the smoggy disaster of 1952. They passed a Clean Air Act that encouraged people to use heaters fueled by gas, oil, and electricity rather than coal. Later, they even passed a law to make sure that industries used taller chimneys. The London smog disaster woke many people up around the world to the dangers of air pollution.
 
5     Breathing in smoggy air is terrible anywhere. Levels of air pollution in Europe are especially high. In some areas, these levels are ten times higher than a smoggy day in Los Angeles. One scientist said that pollution is measured by particles in the air. He explained that, "Clean air comes in from the ocean with about 100 particles per cubic meter. Most air over central Europe has more than 1,000; while over a very polluted city, the concentration is up to 10,000."

Paragraphs 6 to 12:
For the complete story with questions: click here for printable


Extended Activities:

1.  Keep a daily log for one week of your family's car usage. After the week is over, study your log and see if you can find ways that your family could drive your car less. Write up your recommendations.

2.  You are a reporter in London in 1952. Write a dramatic article about the Great Smog that enveloped your city. If you need more facts to write your article, do further research on this event. If you feel artistically inspired, draw a picture of the city blanketed by thick, pea-soup smog.

3.  Design a poster about the necessities of life. Think about the most important things that people need for a healthy, happy life and illustrate your ideas in a colorful way.



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