60 Years Since The Clean Air Act


Today celebrates 60 years since the Clean Air Act was first established in 1956. Despite air pollution still being a massive problem globally, and a bigger killer than malaria and HIV/Aids combined, the clean air act was a first in air quality legislation and a breakthrough for the UK. In December 1952, air damper than normal, and a toxic fog surrounding the city, there was a recorded peak in both smoke and sulphur dioxide pollution levels that remained for five days. Known as The Great London smog, this peak correlates with a peak in London deaths – 4,000 more than usual.

Influenced by the 1952 tragedy, the Beaver Committee report was released, which then introduced the Clean Air Act of 1956. Smokeless zones were introduced and as a result, smoke pollution and sulphur dioxide levels were reduced enormously.

Since the Clean Air Act, there have been various UK and EU Air Quality legislations. However, there is still a long way to go. Recent research showed that 11 UK cities exceeded the legal limit of Air Pollution. With far higher levels than what’s determined safe, pollutants from air pollution such as road traffic and suphur dioxide have been linked to many health impacts; increased mental health problems in children, asthma, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, suppressed lung growth in children and affects on foetal brain growth.

Want advice on air quality legislation for your development, planning application or workplace? Go to our Air Quality page where you can find out more, or talk to a consultant on 0845 676 9303.

Clean Air Act