The British often refer to their capital as "big smoke". This is not surprising, London is periodically covered with smog - a mixture of smoke and fog, which dramatically reduces visibility, increases the corrosion of metals. But, this is not the worst thing. Smog is extremely dangerous for people, and the total number of victims is difficult to calculate.
The word "smog" is of English origin and is a composite of the words "smoke" (smoke) and "fog" (fog). This term first appeared in 1905. It was then that Dr. Henry Antoine de Vaux published the article "Fog and Smoke". Moreover, the author concluded that this destructive smog is a product of civilization, because it does not occur in rural areas.
Smoke from chimneys of industrial enterprises and private houses mixes with fog, and fogs are common in London. In calm weather, smog can hang over the city for days.
This problem has existed in London since the Middle Ages. No wonder, in 1273, King Edward I forbade the inhabitants of the city to heat their houses with coal. And in 1306, artisans were forbidden to burn brown coal, so as not to harm the health of the queen. Moreover, the punishment for failure to comply with this decree was very severe - the death penalty.
In 1661, the famous English writer John Evelyn, seriously concerned with the problem of ecology in London, published the book "Fumifugium" (Fumigation), in which he called for the use of aromatized wood instead of coal, and some of London's businesses should be removed from the city altogether.
Smog attacks London only in autumn and winter, from October to February. In the spring and summer, this disaster is not observed.
But many cultural figures believe that it is smog that gives London its charm. So, the writer Oscar Wilde noticed that the London fog became known throughout the world thanks to writers and artists. Smog was portrayed in their canvases by the artists Claude Monet and William Turner. US actor Groucho Marks said that London looks terrible in dry weather: "I hate London when it is not raining."
In the winter of 1952, tragedy struck London: a terrible smog hung over the city from 5 to 9 December. There is the most contradictory information about the number of victims - from 4 to 12 thousand people. About 100 thousand more fell ill. Public transport stopped, only the metro was working. Even the "ambulance" could not go to the patients, they had to get to the hospitals on their own.
The situation was so serious that the British Parliament passed the "Clean Air Act" in 1956, which provided for measures to improve the environmental situation in London. The position of “fireplace observer” was even introduced, who was supposed to monitor the operation of heating devices in his area.
The action of the famous London fog was fully felt by the football players of the Moscow Dynamo, who made a tour of Great Britain in the autumn of 1945. On November 21, before the start of the match with London Arsenal, visibility at the stadium was no more than 30-40 meters. Nevertheless, the match took place and ended with the victory of the Muscovites with a score of 4: 3. Many years later, Englishman George Drury, a participant in that match, admitted that he was sent off by the referee, but, thanks to the fog, was able to return to the field. Nobody noticed this.