Society and the Environment: Killer Smog

killer smog

This historical photo captures the town of Donora, Pennsylvania, as it is enveloped in smog at noon on Saturday, October 28, 1948.

For the residents of the small Monongahela Valley town of Donora, Pennsylvania, living with the smoke that billowed from the local zinc smelter was an everyday occurrence— until October 26, 1948. On that night, a temperature inversion and an absence of wind began to trap a deadly mixture of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and metal dust that would hang in the valley air for five days. Over that period of time, 20 residents lost their lives and 7,000 other residents—about half of the town’s population—suffered some form of respiratory problems.

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