Smog can have various origins and types. Learn the difference between photochemical and sulfurous smog and the main methods to fight them.
Smog is a phenomenon induced by a mixture of factors and can therefore be quite unpredictable. Even though knowledge of the problem has increased over the past few decades, it is not uncommon to mistake it for regular fog. The polluting particles cannot always be detected by our senses, as they can be odorless and colorless.
However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect our health. In fact, its implications can be severe, ranging from respiratory problems to heart diseases. According to WHO statistics, more than 6.5 million people die as a result of health problems tied to air pollution every year.
This demonstrates the scale of the problem and explains why steps towards improving air quality should be treated as a priority by governments. Educating and encouraging citizens to take personal measures is also necessary. Monitoring air quality through apps like ours can help prevent smog’s negative health implications.
Knowing the differences between types of air pollution is crucial for cities to adjust strategies in the fight against smog.
Types of smog
Depending on its origins and characteristics, smog can be either sulfurous or photochemical. Alternative names for these are London smog and Los Angeles smog respectively.
Sulfurous smog (London smog)
London smog usually appears in colder months. Therefore, cities located close to the equator or in the subtropical sphere are not affected by it. This type of air pollution emerges as a result of burning coal, the accumulation of particulate matter from industrial activity and a drop in temperature. The polluting particles mix with the cold air to form a thick fog that significantly worsens overall air quality. Sulfurous smog is characterized by a high concentration of sulfur dioxides, nitrogen dioxides, and dust.
Photochemical smog (Los Angeles smog)
This type of smog is typical of the subtropical sphere, but there are some exceptions. Interestingly, it often appears in Polish cities like Kraków and Warsaw, which have been known to suffer from sulfurous smog. It forms mainly in the summer months when temperatures reach high levels. Los Angeles smog consists mainly of carbon oxides, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons. Contrary to sulfurous smog, photochemical smog originates from exhaust fumes and industrial emissions.
As you can see, the factors causing these two types of air pollution vary. That is why prevention strategies should be adjusted to the specifics of any particular city. Nevertheless, some measures are universal and benefit both air quality and the comfort of city inhabitants. Development of public transportation, investment in bike paths, the introduction of electric vehicles, and closing central zones for cars are decisions that can pave a path to cleaner air.