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Many cities have found ways to limit the very visible form of pollution called smog (smoke+ fog= smog), but on some unfortunate days industrial and automotive  pollution can mix together with inopportune  weather conditions and form unhealthy levels of smog in the air, leaving a hazy blanket over a city. The problem intensifies in cities surrounded by mountains and on warm weather days. Smog causes harm to humans, animals, and plants.

Do this simple experiment in the classroom to see fog form in a jar! Adult supervision required!

Smog Alert!

1) Cut a strip of paper about 10 in x 1/2 in. (25cm x 1.25 cm).

2) Fold the length of the strip in half and twist the paper.

3) Make a “lid” for the glass jar by shaping a piece of aluminum foil over the open end of the jar. Take away the foil and put it aside.

4) Put some water in the jar. Swirl it around so the inside walls of the jar are wet.

5) Pour out the water. Make sure there isn’t any water pooling at the bottom of the jar.

6)  Place 3 ice cubes on top of the foil to make it cold (I used an ice pack).

7) Ask an adult to light the strip of paper. Drop it and the match into the damp jar.

8) Quickly put the foil lid on the jar and seal it tightly. Keep the ice cubes on top of the foil, in the middle.

What do you see in the jar? Have you ever seem this in the sky? Could the air still be polluted on a visibly clear day?

This offers a prime chance to discuss the deadly London smog disaster of 1952, one of the worst environmental incidents in history. During a very cold but windless week,  many Londoners burned more coal than usual to heat their homes. This pollution combined with the pollution from coal powered power stations created a thick layer of smog in the air which severely affected the respiratory tracts of many people.   The smog killed 4,000 people and shut down all road, air, and rail transportation in the city! This event would come to inspire environmental research, government regulation, and public awareness of the relationship between air quality and health. 

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