sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Friday, April 28, 2006

......I read with interest yesterday's N&R article on air quality, or lack therof, in Guilford County.

A buddy of mine and I discussed it later. We generally agree on most issues except air quality. I just don't think the air's that bad here. He says the air's so bad he's thinking about leaving. Then he changed his mind and said he'd get a place elsewhere for red and orange ozone days.

So he'd be gone seven days out of the year. Twenty-two days between 2002-2004 is seven days a year, right? That was lower than the pervious study period, and there's no reason to believe the number will be even lower for the next study period.

But what I found interestinng was the unchallenged scare tactic thrown out by the American Lung Association's Janice Nolen, who said "a bad spike in particle pollution over a four-day period in London killed 150 people in 1952."

Nolen's talking about the Killer Fog of '52, and a hell of a lot more than 150 people died. Some estimate that as many as 4,000 people died, making it a very deadly environmental episode.

The cause was "...a mass of stagnant air had just clamped a lid over London, trapping the smoke from millions of residential coal fires at ground level."

A source told me that particulate levels were tens of times greater than peak levels in North Carolina today. Not only particulate levels were super-high. There was also lots of sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, and probably other pollutants as well.

So it was simply a matter of a society, seven years removed from world war, struggling to stay warm. That condition doesn't exist today due to advances in technology. Based on what I read, it's not unreasonable to assume that further advances in technology will foster air quality that was unimaginable during the Killer Fog of '52.


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