Donora, Pennsylvania, Suffers Deadly Temperature Inversion (Great Events from History II: Ecology and the Environment Series)
Article abstract: On October 26, 1948, a temperature inversion over Donora, Pennsylvania, trapped atmospheric pollutants for six days, causing more than five thousand people to become ill.
Summary of Event
During the last week of October, 1948, a temperature inversion associated with an anticyclone caused stagnant atmospheric conditions over western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and parts of Maryland and Virginia. In Donora, Pennsylvania, this condition was accompanied by heavy fog, resulting in the formation of a dense smog (smoke and other air pollutants plus fog). On October 27, 1948, it was reported that “streamers of carbon appeared to hang motionless in the air and visibility was so poor that even natives of the area became lost.” The smog continued through the next day, with only minor concern voiced by the townspeople.
The impact on the community, however, was disastrous. On Friday, October 29, illnesses began to be reported. Physicians were flooded with calls for medical assistance, and many people were treated"at hospitals, by the Donora Fire Department, and by the local chapter of the Red Cross"by late that evening. Nearly five hundred people reported respiratory-related illnesses before conditions subsided. It was estimated that five thousand to six thousand additional people may have been affected but did not report their conditions to health officials. Many residents suffered from shortness...
(The entire section is 1759 words.)
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