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History Offers Lesson On Air Pollution, Investing In Air Quality Yields Returns

Forbes: Take A Deep Breath And Remember The Great Smog Of 1952
K.N. Smith, freelance science journalist

“Three days after smog forced authorities in Delhi, India, to cancel a major sporting event, people in London are remembering one of the deadliest days of air pollution on record: the Great Smog of 1952. … Four years later, Parliament passed the Clean Air Act of 1956. The law regulated the burning of coal in some areas of London and moved coal-burning power stations away from the city. Other legislation has followed since, but London remains one of the world’s hardest cities to take a deep breath in. … But the problem extends far beyond London. Most of the world’s largest cities are shrouded in smog. … But if we can learn from the Great Smog 65 years later, we can clear the air and turn a profit. The Lancet’s Commission on Pollution and Health reports that shifting to alternative energy sources, investing in mass transit, and taking other steps to cut air pollution yields an economic return of about $30 for ever dollar spent. That makes air quality an excellent investment, especially since it also boosts your odds of living longer to enjoy it” (12/5).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.