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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 00:35 GMT
Pollution call on smog anniversary
London during the Great Smog of 1952
The Great Smog is believed to have killed 4,000
Environmental groups have renewed calls to reduce pollution on the 50th anniversary of London's Great Smog, which killed thousands of people.

The National Society for Clean Air (NSCA) said air pollution could be killing at least twice as many people as the official estimates state.

Meanwhile London Assembly members and some inner London boroughs want the mayor to make the capital a low emission zone.

The Great Smog of 1952 is estimated to have killed around 4,000 people - mainly through respiratory or cardiac problems.

Road, rail and air transport were brought almost to a standstill and a performance at the Sadler's Wells Theatre had to be suspended because fog in the auditorium made conditions impossible.

It was caused by fog combined with smoke from coal fires and industry.

The choking smog enveloped the city for four days - prompting the introduction of the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 which cut smoke emissions.


Emerging health evidence shows new sources of pollution provide a continuing threat

Richard Mills, NSCA

Nothing on the scale of the 1952 smog has happened again but experts say the present levels of air pollution, although not as visible, may be just as much of a threat.

NSCA secretary general Richard Mills said: "Emerging health evidence shows new sources of pollution provide a continuing threat and official figures may seriously under-estimate the level of death and illness."

The government estimates that 24,000 people a year have their lives shortened by air pollution but the NSCA believes it could be double that number.

It wants the government to reassess the health impact of air pollution.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Emil Petrie
"The worst fog in living memory brought London to a standstill"
Richard Mills, National Society for Clean Air
"Significant air pollution is still causing up to 20,000 deaths a year"
Dr Tony Fletcher, School of Hygiene
"The smog was so thick you couldn't see your hand if you held it in front of your face"
See also:

05 Dec 02 | Health
22 Nov 02 | Health
17 Oct 02 | Health
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