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The English Variety of Smoke and Fog: Smog

January 16, 1994

The Business section article "The Spin Doctors: Flywheels Seen as Key to a Practical Electric Vehicle" (Jan. 6) suggests that the word smog was invented in the L.A. Basin. If so, then it was certainly coined independently in London and was current at least as early as just after World War II.

Smog was the contraction of smoke and fog. When a good London fog coincided with an inversion layer, and the smoke from power stations, locomotives and the then-ubiquitous domestic open-grate coal fires could not escape, the result was a black, acrid atmosphere. The so-called killer smog of 1952, which lasted nearly a week, was blamed for some 4,000 deaths and resulted in legislation making the greater London area a smoke-free zone. London is now free from smog, English variety.

Unfortunately, our chemically different smog from quite different causes is much less easy to get rid of.

PETER COPPEN

Newport Beach

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