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A tugboat on the Thames near Tower Bridge in heavy smog, 1952. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Maritime Image of the Day: “Smog on the Thames”

PortandTerminal.com, November 19, 2019

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – Over the past several weeks the media has been covering the choking smog that has blanketed Delhi, India. Car fumes, industrial emissions and smoke from farms have contributed to the pollution crisis there making it so bad, flights have had to be diverted and school cancelled. England has also suffered similar severe air quality crises in its past, one of which is the subject of today’s Maritime Image of the Day.

Delhi, 2019

The Great Smog of London (1952)

London, 1952

Today’s “Maritime Image of the Day” is titled “Smog on the Thames and was taken 67 years ago in London, England.

The Great Smog of London as it became to be called, was a severe air-pollution event that affected the British capital of London in early December 1952. A period of cold weather, combined with windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants—mostly arising from the use of coal—to form a thick, choking layer of smog over the city. It lasted from Friday 5 December to Tuesday 9 December 1952.

It is estimated that The Great Smog killed at least 4,000 people (some estimates put the number as high as 12,000) and made another 100,000 people sick. For perspective, that is significantly more people than were killed and injured during the horror of 9/11.

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