London Pea Soup
Today’s prompt on World Watercolor Group is “Hazy”. Good for learning and training a new technique or at least some reflection over the theme. For this challenging subject I choose the fatal episode in England’s History to illustrate the effect of a green smoked lethal Londonian incident that happened in 1952 called, later on, “pea soup”… because of the greenish color of the sky. Ugh!!! Chimney’s are charming but they can also be dangerous if combined with other climate factors. |That thick, greasy, grimy fog descended on the city and killed 12,000 people in four days. A blanket of soot hung over the streets so thickly that visibility was reduced to a couple of yards or less.
Pea soup, or a pea souper, also known as a black fog, killer fog or smog is a very thick and often yellowish, greenish, or blackish fog caused by air pollution that contains soot particulates and the poisonous gas sulfur dioxide. This very thick smog occurs in cities and is derived from the smoke given off by the burning of soft coal for home heating and in industrial processes. Smog of this intensity is often lethal to vulnerable people such as the elderly, the very young and those with respiratory problems. The result of these phenomena was commonly known as a London particular or London fog, which then, in a reversal of the idiom, became the name for a thick pea and ham soup.
From as early as the 1200s, air pollution became increasingly prevalent, and a predominant perception in the thirteenth century was that sea-coal smoke would affect one’s health. From the mid-1600s, in UK cities, especially London, the incidence of ill-health was attributed to coal smoke from domestic chimneys and industry combining with the mists and fogs of the Thames Valley. Luke Howard, a pioneer in urban climate studies, published The Climate of London in 1818–20, in which he uses the term ‘city fog’ and describes the heat island effect which concentrated the accumulation of smog over the city.
In 1880 Francis Albert Rollo Russell, son of the former Prime Minister Lord John Russell, published a leaflet that blamed home hearth, rather than factory, smoke for damaging the city’s important buildings, depriving vegetation of sunlight, and increasing the expense and effort of laundering clothes. Furthermore he charged the ‘perpetually present’ sulphurous smoke with increasing bronchitis and other respiratory diseases. More than 2000 Londoners had ‘literally choked to death’, he wrote, on account of ‘a want of carefulness in preventing smoke in our domestic fires’ which emitted coal smoke from ‘more than a million chimneys’ that when combined with the prolonged fogs of late January and early February 1880, fatally aggravated pre-existing lung conditions and was ‘more fatal than the slaughter of many a great battle’.
The most lethal incidence of this smog in London occurred in 1952 and resulted in the Clean Air Act 1956 and Clean Air Act 1968, both now repealed and consolidated into the Clean Air Act 1993 which were effective in largely removing sulphur dioxide and coal smoke, the causes of pea-soup fog, though these have been replaced by less visible pollutants that derive from vehicles in urban areas.
Source: Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pea_soup_fog#cite_note-11 and Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2243732/Pea-souper-killed-12-000-So-black-screen-cinemas-So-suffocatingly-lethal-ran-coffins-How-Great-Smog-choked-London-60-years-ago-week.html
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