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Smog Almost Killed New York City, Here’s How

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Channel: Seeker
Categories: Biology   |   Society / Culture   |   Health   |   Environmental   |   Science   |   Social Science  
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Pollution levels around the world today seem astronomical, but in New York City, they used to be deadly. How did this happen and when did it change?

When Did Environmentalism Become So Political?

Read More:
Thanksgiving 1966 Air Pollution Episode In The Eastern United States' (HEW report, 1968)
"In recent years adverse health effects resulting from acute air pollution episodes have been dramatically demonstrated. In these cases excess illness due to sharp increases in air pollution concentrations was sudden in onset and, in some cases, fatal in outcome. The best known cases are those in the Meuse Valley, Belgium (1930); Donora, Pennsylvania (1948); London (1952 and 1953); New York City (1953); London (1962); and New York City (1963). Excess deaths over normal expectancy ranged from 17 in Donora, to 4000 in the 1952 London smog. Sensational and tragic as these acute episodes are, health authorities are even more concerned today with the slow, insidious effects on human lungs and other organs by air pollution levels that are much lower, but are continued every day, year after year."

40th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Clean Air Act Amendments, a landmark piece of legislation that has led to significant environmental and public health benefits across the United States.

The Clean Air Act was signed by President Richard Nixon on December 31, 1970 to foster the growth of a strong American economy and industry while improving human health and the environment. President Richard Nixon recognized the Clean Air Act as a beginning, stating, 'I think that 1970 will be known as the year of the beginning, in which we really began to move on the problems of clean air and clean water and open spaces for the future generations of America.'"

If you would like to see more of Arthur Tress's recent work, please visit:

To see more photos from the EPA's Documerica Project:


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