|This image shows a woman walking down the streets|
of Donora with a mask to protect her from the toxic chemicals in the air.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Donora Smog of 1948 - Donora, Pennsylvania
The Donora Smog of 1948 was an environmental disaster that--through its devastating consequences--brought about a much needed awareness for air pollution. On October 27, 1948, the residents of Donora awoke to a thick smog in the air. This in itself was not a surprise to them. The local factories(Zinc Works and Steel--both of which contributed to a lot of air pollution), and the town's location within a river valley made smogs common. However, there was one chilling difference. Previous smogs usually went away within hours; they never lasted more than a day. But this smog remained for 5 continuous days. Scientists assert that this was because of the conditions under which Donora was at the time. The air was stagnant, and there was an air inversion. These two things combined did not allow for any of the smog to escape. So the smog only thickened as the days continued. On October 31, a wind current combined with rain saved Donora. The wind current allowed for the Stagnant air to move, and the rain eased away all the harmful pollutants on surfaces of buildings, cars, streets, etc. Unfortunately, The Killer Smog had already claimed the lives of 20 and sickened 6,000. In the months that followed, people who had been sickened continued to die. (So, the death toll was sadly much larger). This air pollution disaster, arguably one of the worst, taught America a valuable lesson--the consequence of ignorance. After the disaster, many people began to pay attention to air pollution, which they had never done before. In 1955, the Clean Air Act was passed. This new Act would help fund research that dealt with air pollution and how to do with it, so that another disaster like this would never occur again.