Stinky Air Pollution and the Great London Smog

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.

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.

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.

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