Smog Attack

A cloud of toxic pollutants attacking around the world, and it’s called smog.


Yoonjoo Oh, Reporter

Have you heard the word ‘smog’?

It is a word of smoke and fog combined. A smog is a fog or haze combined with smoke and other atmospheric industrial pollutants. It basically means it can be very dangerous. These small pollutants, once just some little pieces of dust rolling around nowhere, suddenly became a bunch of terrors of smoky clouds in the cities around the world, filling people’s lungs and nearly choking them into sickness, life shortened, and even death. This is been happening all around the world including the U.S.

Cause of the smog

So where did these come from? Experts say that those little air pollutants usually comes from these things;

  • Coal – Coal fires, used for heating buildings, can emit smoke clouds that contributes to the air pollutants.
  • Transportation emissions – Cars, buses, trucks, automobile fueled with petroleum fuel produces pollution that contributes to the smog as a major ingredient.
  • Photochemical reaction – A reaction of sunlight, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds which leaves airborne particles and ground-level ozone. And that makes the mixture of air pollutants.
  • Natural causes – A volcano eruption could cause a smoke of pollutants, but is usually called a vog to distinguish it as a natural occurrence.

Effects of the smog

All of these toxic particles adding up becomes a smog. This is just my opinion, but if this situation goes on and on, it could turn out becoming like the story, ‘Fever 1793’. But instead of yellow fever, it’ll be a wave of asthma smoke disease.

And this thing, the smog, turns out to be it can affect health very badly;

  • Harm breathing passages – Shortness of breath, pain when inhaling deeply, wheezing, and coughing, etc.
  • Premature death –  Ontario Medical Association announced that the smog is responsible for the premature deaths due to cancer and respiratory disease.
  • Alzheimer disease – Tiny magnetic particles from the pollution has been discovered to be lodged in the human brain, and which is a possible cause of Alzheimer disease.
  • Birth defects – A group of scientists found out that the smog was linked to birth defects including neural tube defects (NTD) which is a group of birth defects of; for an example, an incomplete closing of a spinal, or brain remaining from the early human developments.
  • Low birth weight – Even a small change in the atmospheric aerosol particles can be a risk of a low weight when born.

Polluted areas around the world 

Most of the highly polluted cities are big/populated, highly developed cities. It’s because if there are more people, more cars. If there’s more cars, more gas, more smoke, and, of course, more polluted air. Which basically makes a smog. So these are the cities;

  • Canada: The Canadian Science Smog Assessment announced that the smog is responsible for the damage to human health and ecosystem health also.
  • Delhi, India: One of the most populated, and polluted area. During 2013-2014, Delhi’s fine particulate matter which was increased by 44%, and is rising, due to high industrial emissions. The thick winter smog caused death of about 10,500 people in Delhi. India’s people are launching many clean air campaigns.
  • Beijing, China: Beijing has been converting coal-burning power plants since 2012 (which of course, more burning coal, then more pollutants). Most of the pollutants are coming from its neighbor cities, which also are using lots of coal and is expected to increase more. For an example, in the coal-mining regions of Shanxi, the use of resources tripled since 2000, and now Shandong contributes to air pollution too.
  • London, UK: The Great Smog of 1952 killed about 4,000 people or more in a short time of 4 days, which made them start the Clean Air Act making smokeless zones in the capital.
  • Mexico City, Mexico: Because of its location, highland bowl, the cold air sinks and traps the pollutants inside which makes it the most smog affected the city in Latin America.
  • Santiago, Chile: In a similar position of Mexico, it too is an infamous city affected by the smog.
  • Tehran, Iran: In December 2005, about 1,600 people in Tehran were hospitalized because of the smog. They blame unfiltered car exhaustion.
  • US: In 1943, July 26, a sudden smog took over Los Angeles. It was so thick and sudden that the people thought it was a Japanese chemical attack. Smog in 1948, October 30-31 at Donora, Pennsylvania killed 20 people and made 600 people hospitalized, and struck a thousand more. Also in New York City 1966, November 24, a smog attacked and killed at least 169 people.
  • Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia: People living in the countryside in traditional Mongolian Gers started to burn coal, and wood to get heat during the harsh winter. But the coal-fired ger stoves released highly leveled ash and pollutants, and if inhaled, these pollutants could settle in a person’s lung and cause harm in breathing passages.
  • South East Asia: Smog in South East Asia is mainly caused by land/forest fires which farmers use to clean their land in especially in Sumatra, or Kalimantan, Indonesia. Countries like Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand are mainly affected by these fires by agriculture production damage, land destruction, the harm of health, and other problems including the smog.
  • Pakistan: A heavy winter smog loaded with pollutants came, causing trouble including breathing problems and traffic problems.

Many people can think as if a smog attack is a faraway story, but no, smog is everywhere, affecting many lands and causing trouble. We really don’t know how much the situation will get worst, nor how much we can bear. We should really think about this problem. We never know what it’s going to do until it comes right in front of our noses.