It is December in London and people are rushing around buying last minute Christmas gifts. It is 1952. In the coming weeks over 10,000 people will die. This event will be known as The Great London Smog and will affect at least 100,000 aside from those who died. London was dark.
Though they did not know it at the time, London was experiencing one of the first large scale results of air pollution. However, London was accustomed to fog so people did not pay it much attention. Many people died from the direct effects of the smog while others would die later of respiratory complications caused by the polluted air during the event.
Today, London is still struggling with air pollution as are lots of other major cities globally. Emissions from cars and factories have polluted our air to the point that people in some Asian cities such as Beijing, wear face masks while outside. Visibility levels are decreasing while number of cases of asthma are increasing.
Particulate matter (PM) is one of the five major pollutants. PM has been showing up more frequently inside of people's brains and lungs. This may have something to do with the fact that PM 2.5 is biologically dangerous to humans. PM is measured on a scale from 10-1, 2.5 being the point in which it turns harmful. Though PM in general is harmful and aids in air pollution, PM 2.5 is small enough to seep into skin and make it’s way to the bloodstream. Particulate matter affects the human body in a multitude of ways from cancer to heart attacks to cognitive disabilities in children.
At this point, we can not undo the effects of PM or remove it from our bodies but we can work towards cleaner air so that future generations can live healthier lives. This has to be a world effort which starts with countries divising individual plans such as the United States’ Clean Air Act and New Zealand's plans to meet the PM 10 standards.
Our world is facing major issues with air pollution and it is time that we do something about it. The Great London Smog should have changed how we viewed air pollution yet it just sits as another sad story in the history of our existence. If there is no change, our entire existence will be just another sad story.