1948 Smog 75th Anniversary 2023


Please stop back as the details unfold

The 1948 Donora Smog Disaster - The Donora Works of American Steel and Wire Company stretched nearly three miles along the Monongahela River thirty miles south of Pittsburgh. Within the industrial complex, that employed over eight thousand, were Blast Furnaces, Open Hearths, a Blooming Mill, Rod Mill, Wire Works, Nail Mill, Acid Plant and the largest Zinc Works in the world. The red, black, white and yellow smoke pouring from the Works frequently forced streetlamps and headlights to burn twenty-four hours a day. As the week before Halloween 1948 began the people of Donora were focusing on a parade, a football game, "Trick or Treat" and a national election. No one could know that a severe temperature inversion had settled over the valley. By Wednesday visibility was as limited as anyone could remember, plus many people were having difficulty breathing. The effluent from the mill that was typically carried away by prevailing wind currents reached the ceiling of the inversion and fell back to earth in the stagnant atmosphere. The weekend was a nightmare. Thousands were ill, hundreds needed medical attention, and by Monday morning twenty-seven were dead. The Donora Smog Disaster was a wakeup call to years of ignoring the deadly effects of industrial pollution. The incident sparked a conflict that continues to shape the political and economic debate, not only in the United States but, around the world, between industrial and economic interests and pioneers for the protection of the environment and public health.
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