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The science of smog - Kim Preshoff

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On July 26, 1943, Los Angeles was blanketed by a thick gas that stung people’s eyes and blocked out the Sun. Panicked residents believed their city had been attacked using chemical warfare. But the cloud wasn’t an act of war. It was smog. So what is this thick gray haze actually made of? And why does it affect some cities and not others? Kim Preshoff details the science behind smog.

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TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Kim Preshoff
  • Director Mauricio Vargas
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Producer Andrés F. Urbina
  • Art Director Maria Camila Gómez
  • Illustrator Oscar Reyes
  • Compositor María Alejandra Torres
  • Composer Camilo Vega
  • Sound Designer Camilo Vega
  • Associate Producer Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Julianna Zarzycki

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
Is smog an issue in the city where you live? What exactly is it like to live in an area prone to long time periods where citizens are exposed to smog? Read this article: Here are some of the world’s worst cities for air quality. To find out the cities with the most air pollution issues, click here and here. This American Chemical Society article: In the Fog about Smog: Solving the Smog Puzzle on Earth and from Space describes how smog is being studied from space and discusses the formation of smog and what comprises it! Finally, China's toxic smog from BBC News shows actual footage and descriptions from people living in smog ridden areas. This multimedia presentation also provides interviews and first person account of how it is to live in a polluted city on a daily basis: Beijing's smog: A tale of two cities.

There are methods being designed that may help cities fighting smog to decrease the impact of this nuisance on its citizens. Visit this link to see a new air mask design from Swedish entrepreneurs. Decreasing worldwide dependence on coal can also help stop smog formation. Here is a recent article on that topic. How difficult will it be to cut coal out of the energy equation? What measures has China taken to decrease smog? This article: China Bans Cars As Air Pollution Hits Red-Alert Status may provide some ideas. National Geographic also has this recent article: China's Surprising Solutions to Clear Killer Air.

What exactly is a temperature inversion and how does it form? The science behind temperature inversions is a great resource describing how smog and other types of air pollution can become trapped due to lack of vertical mixing of atmospheric layers. Where do these inversions commonly form?

Health problems associated with smog can be both acute and chronic. This article describes issues that arise when exposed to smog on a frequent basis. Tehran smog blamed for hundreds of deaths is another article that discusses the hazards of smog exposure. With Every Breath : Health Effects Of Smog addresses California’s SMOG problems and the health effects on people living in the area. Does exposure to smog affect the nervous system? Read: Smog in our brains and find out more. Visit the Center for Disease Control for more information about particulates, air pollution and exposure to high tropospheric ozone levels.

Studying historic smog events could give us great insight into how to prevent future ones. Learn more about the Smog Almost Killed New York City, Here’s How! Here is a photo-essay of SMOG through the years in Los Angeles. London, England also has had some serious and deadly bouts with SMOG. One was the Great Smog of 1952. Read more about it here: Scientists finally know what caused a mysterious fog to kill 12,000 people in London in 1952.

People all over the world are looking for ways to reduce smog. This TED Talk discusses one idea.

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Kim Preshoff
  • Director Mauricio Vargas
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Producer Andrés F. Urbina
  • Art Director Maria Camila Gómez
  • Illustrator Oscar Reyes
  • Compositor María Alejandra Torres
  • Composer Camilo Vega
  • Sound Designer Camilo Vega
  • Associate Producer Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Julianna Zarzycki

Share

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