From the contraction of the English terms "Smoke" (smoke) and "fog" (fog) the word smog was born and it is not just the English mania that leads us to use a foreign term, the fact is that smog, the concept of smog, was born in London and the name was created precisely to describe the London atmosphere. Of course, shortly after it was noticed that the phenomenon was not only present in that city but the name has remained that. Smog remained not only while changing cities but also by changing the type of pollution. Today there is no longer the smog of the past, our ways of polluting have changed, we have in a certain sense also evolved in that and the good old smog of the past is difficult to meet in our modern cities.
In this article we go to learn about the origins and evolution of smog in Italy and in the world, always calling it smog even if someone has tried to Italianize the term with more funny than effective results. It was the linguist Arrigo Castellani who, between the serious and the facetious, in a critical article on the abuse of English terms in the Italian language dating back to 1987 tried to propose the term “Fubbia”, composed precisely of “fu [mo]” and “[ne] bbia. What do you think about it? Better smog, right?
What is smog
In the 1950s, when the term was coined, we wanted to refer to a very specific phenomenon and a very specific year. We are in 1952 when in London a tremendously poisonous layer of pollution is formed which causes an increase in mortality and an increase in respiratory diseases among the population. Where does this smog come from? What's this? It derives from harmful emissions due touse of coal as fuel.
This led to the creation of unburnt powders, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides which then collided with a rather long period of thermal inversion, which is why a hood then formed over this city in this precise period, located in the lower layers of the atmosphere.
What is photochemical smog
As we have anticipated, in the space of a few decades we have learned to pollute in a different but certainly no less harmful way. Smog is no longer what it once was, the fifties they are far away and even the hood is no longer seen as it used to be. However, let us not delude ourselves that the air is less polluted, only it is polluted differently. In step with the times, the term smog has begun to be used to describe current pollution, today it is used to indicate thephotochemical pollution, a much more worrying phenomenon
This form of smog so popular today, especially in metropolitan areas, turns out to be completely different from the traditional one, different but no less dangerous, indeed! These powders, even if they do not create a hood as visible as that of the fifties, they are capable of producing great damage not only to our health, but also to the environment, aquatic ecosystems and animals.
Fortunately we have realized this and in many countries, in some more, in others less, measures are in place specifically designed to reduce this problem. As inhabitants of the planet we are all, or almost all, aware that the risk associated with photochemical smog is very high indeed. The areas most at risk are the most populated, industrialized and urbanized ones.
Why is “modern” smog called “photochemical”? To find out, it is necessary to investigate the mechanisms behind its formation, mechanisms that involve ozone, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. We have noticed that this particular air pollution occurs when there are stable weather conditions and strong sunshine. No hood, as already stated and noted in person, but what we can see is only a slight haze of yellow-brown coloroften responsible for eye irritation and respiratory disorders.
There are also major consequences for the environment: it photochemical smog it can cause damage to vegetation by reducing crop productivity, and damage to property, causing rapid deterioration of surfaces and materials.
What is smog: examples
Let's see some cities where the strong presence of photochemical smog has been reported. Let's go to Los Angeles where this type of pollution, also called summer smog, is a typical condition, so much so that some call this phenomenon "Los Angeles smog". Its constant presence is explained by the fact that in this American metropolis there is a typically warm and dry climate. Just a Los Angeles the first cases of photochemical smog were noted, already around 1940.
Not only in Los Angeles, the phenomenon is typical of the summer months, this because of the role assumed by solar radiation in the basic chemical reaction system. In this context, it is more frequent that the legal limits for ozone, the main tracer of the process, are exceeded.
What is smog: books
For those who want to deepen the phenomenon, especially in the current and future era, I recommend the book “Let's change the air! How to defend ourselves from the damage of pollution ". It is rich in information but can also be read by those who are not in the trade, the authors offer us a broad analysis of the two sides of the problem, the scientific and the "political", comparing Italian, European and American realities. There are many numbers and interesting reflections also on how to fight smog
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