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Atmospheric Pollution

Nature volume 142, page 639 (08 October 1938) | Download Citation



READERS of the daily Press might excusably conclude that physical fitness is solely a matter of physical exercise. It appears to be taken for granted that everyone has free access to the essentials of wholesome food, water and air. Yet the free access to good air does not in fact exist in our large towns, and without it full advantage of facilities for physical culture cannot be taken. For this reason it is of timely interest to inquire how efforts progress towards improving urban atmosphere. The twenty-third report of the Investigation of Atmospheric Pollution (H.M. Stationery Office. 7s. 6d.) discloses statistical evidence of slight improvement, but cautiously expressed. One large city at any rate-Leicester-has started an intensive survey of its own area and surroundings. At twelve stations, systematic records will be taken of pollution by suspended matter, sulphur impurities and of ultra-violet light. Although the collection of data may of itself effect nothing, it may stimulate and provide a guide to ameliorative action. Previous reports have directed attention to the considerable atmospheric pollution of central London. In this one, a recommendation is reported by a committee formed on the initiative of the London County Council, to reduce the emission of grit which modern practice of intensive firing seems to promote. This recommendation refers to “the important contribution which could be made to the diminution of the grit and dust nuisance if they themselves [that is, public authorities] made a practice in their municipal undertakings of using 'washed' coal wherever possible and if they would press industrial undertakings in their respective areas to do so”. This is a timely recommendation, for public authorities control a very large amount of fuel-using plant, and some do not by any means set a good example.

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