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What is the history of air pollution in London?

It is often assumed that air pollution in London is a recent phenomenon, however, legislation attempting to control air pollution was enacted as early as 1306. Coal smoke and its associated problems remained a matter of concern in London up until the late 20th century with the famous smogs of the 1950s and 60s.

In recent years, the pollutants in the capital's air have altered considerably. This is primarily because of the decline in the use of coal in industry and domestic heating, which has led to large reductions in the emissions of sulphur dioxide and particles of soot over the past 40 years. At the same time the increased number of motor vehicles is producing considerable amounts of nitrogen dioxide and small particles.

There is mounting evidence of health effects from everyday exposure to air pollution. The modern-day small particles are our main problem for air pollution health effects, whilst other pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and ozone are also a major cause for concern.

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