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From Friday 5 December to Tuesday 9 December 1952,

the smoke-laden fog that shrouded the capital of England i.e. London which is known as London smog or great smog or also famous as pea-souper.

What Is Smog ?
"Smog" is a term originally formed by the combination of the words "smoke" and "fog." There are actually two kinds of smog: London smog (well know for its fog) and L.A. smog (also know as photochemical smog).

London smog Name: ( New York smog, gray smog)

Photochemical smog (L.A. smog, Denver smog, brown smog)


cool, damp


Content: Sources:

particulates, sulfur oxides coal, etc.

NOx, ozone, hydrocarbons. gasoline, combustion.

Causes of London Smog Early on 5 December, in the London area, the sky was clear, winds were light and the air near the ground was moist. Accordingly, conditions were ideal for the formation of radiation fog. Because of the cold weather, households were burning more coal than usual to keep warm. The smoke from approximately one million coal-fired stoves, in addition to the emissions from local industry, was released into the atmosphere. As night came, light winds, cool air, and high humidity at ground-level were ideal conditions for the formation of thick, smoky fog, or smog. The smoke and fumes from the heavy coal combustion settled close to the ground and due to a temperature inversion, remained motionless and created dense smog.

Temperature inversions are often reversed in the morning when radiation from the sun warms the ground below the mist. The suns radiation was unable to break through the dense smog. This caused the static layer of cooler, polluted air to remain trapped in the lower atmosphere. The fog lasted for 5 days, from December 5 through 10, until winds dispersed the dense air mass and transported the pollution through the Thames Estuary and into the North Sea.

Composition Of London Smog

On each day during the foggy period, the following pollutants were emitted:

1,000 tones of smoke particles .

2,000 tones of carbon dioxide .

140 tones of hydrochloric acid .

14 tones of fluorine compounds. In addition, and perhaps most dangerously, 370 tones of sulphur dioxide were converted into 800 tones of sulphuric acid

Effect Of London Smog

The fog finally cleared on December 10, but it had already taken a heavy toll. About 12,000 people were known to have died as a result of the fog. The thick smog caused all traffic to halt in London. This included automobiles, railways, boats, and airplanes. Only the London Underground was in operation. Ambulances were not able to attend emergencies.

Many people suffered from breathing problems.

Press reports claimed cattle at Smithfield had been asphyxiated by the smog.

The crime rate increased because perpetrators could escape without being seen. Schools were closed due to the risk of children not seeing their way on the sidewalks. Outdoor activities, such as rugby matches, were cancelled. The dense smog also made its way inside of buildings and settled in movie theaters, concert houses and hospitals. Smog also posed a health risk due to the production of sulfuric acid when sulfur trioxide combined with the moisture droplets in the fog. This toxic mixture impaired the functions of the lungs and heart. Most deaths were caused by the inhalation of acid aerosols, which inflamed and irritated bronchial tubes. The acid in the air caused a stinging sensation when inhaled so people who had to go outside had to cover their noses and mouths with a cloth.

The smog-related deaths were primarily attributed to : pneumonia Bronchitis Tuberculosis asphyxiation. respiratory distress Non-fatal health effects from the smog included : short-term chest pains diminished breathing ability Lung inflammation Damaged respiratory cells Cardiac distress Heart failure

permanent lung damage Increased incidence of asthma attacks. It is also thought that the smog could have increased the populations risk of cancer.

Response Of 1952 London Smog

Four years later, the 1956 Clean Air Act was passed. The prime initiative was the introduction of smokeless zones, which banned the burning of fuel. The Act provided grants to homeowners in order to encourage them to switch from coal to other less-polluting heating methods such as electric fireplaces or central heating A cleaner coal was also introduced which reduced the emission of sulphur dioxide.

The April 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine was the product of a flawed Soviet reactor design coupled with serious mistakes made by the plant operators. It was a direct consequence of Cold War isolation and the resulting lack of any safety culture.

Structure Of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant The Chernobyl Power Complex, lying about 130 km north of Kiev, Ukraine, and about 20 km south of the border with Belarus, consisted of four nuclear reactors of the RBMK-1000 design. Units 1 and 2 being constructed between 1970 and 1977, while units 3 and 4 of the same design were completed in 1983. Two more RBMK reactors were under construction at the site at the time of the accident.

Within a 30 km radius of the power plant, the total population was between 115,000 and 135,000.

The RBMK-1000 is a Soviet-designed and built graphite moderated pressure tube type reactor, using slightly enriched (2% U-235) uranium dioxide fuel. One of the most important characteristics of the RBMK reactor is that it can possess a 'positive void coefficient', where an increase in steam bubbles ('voids') is accompanied by an increase in core reactivity.
However, at the time of the accident at Chernobyl 4, the reactor's fuel burn-up, control rod configuration and power level led to a positive void coefficient large enough to overwhelm all other influences on the power coefficient.

Chernobyl Disaster The unit 4 reactor was to be shut down for routine maintenance on 25 April 1986. It was decided to take advantage of this shutdown to determine whether, in the event of a loss of station power, the slowing turbine could provide enough electrical power to operate the main core cooling water circulating pumps, until the diesel emergency power supply became operative.
Inadequate safety precautions were included in the test program and the

operating personnel were not alerted to the nuclear safety implications of the electrical test and its potential danger.

The planned programme called for shutting off the reactor's emergency core cooling system (ECCS), which provides water for cooling the core in an emergency.

Two explosions were reported, the first being the initial steam explosion, followed two or three seconds later by a second explosion, possibly from the buildup of hydrogen due to zirconium-steam reactions. Fuel, moderator, and structural materials were ejected, starting a number of fires, and the destroyed core was exposed to the atmosphere.. One worker, whose body was never recovered, was killed in the explosions, and a second worker died in hospital a few hours later as a result of injuries received in the explosions

Impacts Of Chernobyl Disaster

The accident destroyed the Chernobyl 4 reactor, killing 30 operators and firemen within three months and several further deaths later.

The accident caused the largest uncontrolled radioactive release into the environment ever recorded for any civilian operation, and large quantities of radioactive substances were released into the air for about 10 days. This caused serious social and economic disruption for large populations in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Two radionuclide, the short-lived iodine-131 and the long-lived caesium-137, were particularly significant for the radiation dose they delivered to members of the public. It is estimated that all of the xenon gas, about half of the iodine and caesium, and at least 5% of the remaining radioactive material in the Chernobyl 4 reactor core (which had 192 tonnes of fuel) was released in the accident.
Acute radiation syndrome (ARS) was originally diagnosed in 237 people on-site and involved with the clean-up and it was later confirmed in 134 cases.

By 2000, about 4000 cases of thyroid cancer had been diagnosed in exposed children.
United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) says that "the great majority of the population is not likely to experience serious health consequences as a result of radiation from the Chernobyl accident.

Progressive Closure Of Chernobyl Plant

In the early 1990s, some US$400 million was spent on improvements to the remaining reactors at Chernobyl, considerably enhancing their safety. Energy shortages necessitated the continued operation of one of them (unit 3) until December 2000. Unit 2 was shut down after a turbine hall fire in 1991, and unit 1 at the end of 1997.

Chernobyl Today
Chernobyl unit 4 is now enclosed in a large concrete shelter which was erected quickly (by October 1986) to allow continuing operation of the other reactors at the plant. However, the structure is neither strong nor durable. Some major work on the shelter was carried out in 1998 and 1999. Some 200 tonnes of highly radioactive material remains deep within it

A New Safe Confinement structure is due to be completed in 2016, being built adjacent and then moved into place on rails. It is to be a 20,000 tonne arch 108 metres high, 150 metres long and spanning 257 metres, to cover both unit 4 and the hastily-built 1986 structure.