While - unlike David Cameron seems to think - the smog that has clouded much of Britain this week is testament to the dangerous levels of air pollution the UK faces, it ain’t got nothing on the Great Smog of ‘52.
On Wednesday, as the thick haze settled over London, the capital’s Ambulance service reported a 14% spike in call outs to people with breathing problems.
By contrast, in 1952, up to 12,000 people died and over 100,000 were made ill as a result of the five day pollution filled thick fog that filled London’s streets, reducing visibility to just a couple of metres and masking entire buildings.
The 1952 smog, caused by emissions from low grade post-war coal being trapped by an anticyclone that settled over the capital, directly led to the creation of the Clean Air Act 1956, which introduced a number of measures to reduce air pollution.
London smog: Then and now
London smog: Then and now
A London policeman wearing a mask for protection against the thick fog which hit most of the country and turned to smog in the city
A cyclist wears a mask with an air filter as he cycles through Hyde Park
Heavy smog in Piccadilly Circus, London, 1952
The Shard and St Paul's Cathedral from Hampstead Heath in London
A couple of office workers wearing masks to protect them from the dangerous smog in London, 1953
A cyclist wears an anti air pollution mask as she cycles along The Mall
A London bus makes its way along Fleet Street in heavy smog,1952
A view of London skyline covered in smog.The environment department confirmed that the air pollution level could reach the top rung on its 10-point scale
Morning traffic at Blackfriars, London almost at a standstill because of the blanket smog,1952
Dust settled on a vehicle in South Kensington, which has blown up from the Sahara desert
A tugboat on the Thames near Tower Bridge in heavy smog, 1952
A view of the Tower Bridge as the country continues to experience 'very high' levels of pollution
A couple wearing masks to protect them from the smog in Blackfriars,1954
Tourists wear face masks
A woman wears mask in London, 1953
A woman wearing an anti-pollution mask rides a bicycle at Hyde Park Corner
Smog masks have become all the rage in London due to the life threatening levels of air pollution with result in severe smog or 'pea soupers', 1953
A couple stands on the viewing platform of a skyscraper
Unfortunately in the modern day, despite the visibility and intensity of smog being much reduced, up to 29,000 people in the UK still die per year because of air pollution, according to the European Commission.
This time around, again human actions are much to blame - rather than simply being "a naturally occurring weather phenomenon" caused only by Saharan dust, as David Cameron told the BBC, the smog is a combination of dust and toxic emissions from the UK and Europe.
Despite a number of warning over the last 15 years, the UK has continued to fail in reducing levels of deadly nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere - something that, in February, prompted the European commission to launch legal action.Reuse content