London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Southwark 1952

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Southwark, Borough of]

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The figures of the deposited matter as recorded in the sites in Walworth Road and Bankside are as follows:-

1952Walworth RoadBankside
January21.4151.6 tons per sq. mile.
February23.098.1 ,, ,, ,, ,,
March28.251.4 ,, ,, ,, ,,
April16.248.9 ,, ,, ,, ,,
May17.928.7 ,, ,, ,, ,,
June15.663.7 ,, ,, ,, ,,
July9.938.5 ,, ,, ,, ,,
August16.042.4 ,, ,, ,, ,,
September18.266.7 ,, ,, ,, ,,
October24.467.9 ,, ,, ,, ,,
November24.842.7 ,, ,, ,, ,,
December24.9192.4 ,, ,, ,, ,,
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During the year seven complaints were received regarding
smoke emissions in the Borough, and 122 observations and
visits were made by the Inspector.
In December London experienced a very severe fog. It
commenced and gradually became worse on Friday, 4th December,
lifted somewhat on the 7th, but returned the next day.
The peculiar atmospheric conditions prevailing at the time
appeared to be similar to those which occurred in the Meuse
Valley in December, 1930, and Donora, Penn., U.S.A., in
October, 1948, and which were entirely due to atmospheric
pollution; they were responsible for a large amount of respiratory
illnesses and many deaths of the people living in these
particular valleys.
By the time the fog had abated there was a heavy incidence
of respiratory illness and mortality amongst those suffering from
chest and heart troubles, particularly older people.
The total deaths in the Borough from Influenza, Pneumonia,
Bronchitis and other respiratory diseases for the two weeks from
December 6th to 20th were 95, as compared with 76 from the
same causes for the three months' period from November, 1951,
to January, 1952. Whilst some of the persons who died had
previous histories of respiratory disorders, others died suddenly
in their sleep without previous illness.
The atmospheric pollution at the time was so heavy our
instruments were incapable of measuring the quantity.
ACT, 1951.
During the year twelve samples were taken and submitted
to the prescribed Analyst, Mr. John Hudson, M.A., F.C.S.,
Chiltern Research Laboratories, Ltd., High Wycombe. Two
of these samples did not comply with the requirements of the

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