London under a fog of pollution: a look back at December 4, 1952

London under a fog of pollution: a look back at December 4, 1952

On December 4, 1952, London recorded the worst pollution fog in its history. A dense and persistent fog invaded the streets, causing all transport to stop.

December 4, 1952: London under a haze of pollution

The images are sometimes indistinguishable. The sky fell over London (United Kingdom) on December 4, 1952, and a windless high pressure system settled over the city. It traps all the black smoke produced by the industrial capital. The changing of the guard no longer sees the Palace. For five days, the sun no longer rises. The confusion is total, the police have to circulate with torches. 68 years later, this period still frightens and fascinates.

12,000 people killed

The phenomenon is so new that a term is created for it: great smog. These are the contraction of “smoke”, smoke, and “smog”, fog. It is the sum of all the poisons that threatened the London air for years: the coal-fired power stations, the steam train and the chimneys of the hearths to withstand the cold. 12,000 people are killed by pneumonia and severe bronchitis. In 1956, a law was passed to reduce the sulfur dioxide released by power stations.