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Rejoice- It’s Clean Air Day!

June 17, 2021

By Paul Homewood


You’d be forgiven for not knowing, but today is UK Clean Air Day!





As ever, the day brings all of the lobbyists out of the woodwork, demanding action.

But perhaps, seeing as how they mention “improving public understanding”, they might care to remind the public that our air in the UK is the cleanest for decades, and probably much longer:




As a country, we have every right to be proud of the way we have cleaned up our air over the years. To pretend that tens of thousands are still dying because of air pollution is an insult to our ancestors who had to live in real real pollution:


A Factoryscape in the Potteries’, (1938)

History also records that most of our towns were also stinking hell holes long before the Industrial Revolution.

The campaign reels out the usual lie that air pollution causes 36,000 deaths a year in the UK. There is no evidence for this whatsoever, merely some flawed modelled projections which conclude some people may die a few days earlier than they would have otherwise if they had not lived in polluted cities. But even this does not distinguish between current pollution and the real pollution these people would have been subjected to in the past.


This whole campaign is no more than a smokescreen (pardon the pun!) designed to take away yet more of our freedoms and subject our lives to ever increasing regulation.

  1. Ben Vorlich permalink
    June 17, 2021 12:06 pm

    I remember a number of buildings in Edinburgh being cleaned and soot and grie being removed from facades in the 1970s when it was no longer Aud Reekie. Many cities across the UK did the same after the Clean Air Acts and decline in heavy industry pollution. The buildings remain clean after 50 years.
    I’ve read that some of the cleaning methods were just as, or more damaging as the pollution

  2. June 17, 2021 12:17 pm

    When do you celebrate “Dirty Air Day”?

    As a child I remember shopping trips north ca. 72 miles to Pittsburgh, PA. The steel mills were going full bore. Mother would comment on how dirty the collars of my dad and 2 brothers’ shirts were after such a trip. We were all a bit grimy. Not so today.

    Locally, we had beehive coke ovens going. We sometimes drove out away from town to see a row of them at night. There were also smoldering “gob piles” from the coal tailings which would catch on fire from spontaneous combustion. Later they learned just how high they could pile the rubble before it would catch fire. You could not leave porch furniture out. Synthetic fibers would change color, etc.

    My late father grew up in Butler, PA just north of Pittsburgh. None of our family has ever had lung problems. But we never smoked cigarettes, etc. either.

    So, Happy Clean Air Day, to be followed by 364 Dirty Air Days……

    • John Hultquist permalink
      June 17, 2021 7:23 pm

      We drove from north of Pittsburgh, through Butler, to Pittsburgh. About 70 miles.
      The air was in the process of becoming cleaner — this was just a few year after the 1948 Donora smog. First car dad bought was a 1949 Chevy. Our town’s glass factory used natural gas from nearby wells, and folks were converting from coal heat to gas heat.
      John (then in Clarion County)

      • June 18, 2021 12:08 pm

        Daddy’s family was all from Meadville starting in 1789 w/ the arrival of one of my DAR patriots. My initial patriot’s daughter and her husband came with parchment deeds to bounty land in payment for service in the Revolutionary War. I still have the deeds. This was all in Crawford County and east of Meadville in Blooming Valley.

        Grandfather was superintendent of Butler County schools, but I never knew him. Daddy came to Morgantown to teach chemistry at WVU (mother was his lab assistant as a chemistry major).

        Morgantown had many glass factories due to natural gas. Morgantown Glass and especially Seneca Glass made fine lead crystal. Another factory made the globe lamp parts for the oil lamps. Then there was Gentile, near where I live in Star City. They were a family and made astounding paperweights. All is gone now.

    • Izzy permalink
      June 17, 2021 11:47 pm

      This brings to mind a very old nursery rhyme variation. Mary had a little lamb, it’s fleece was white as snow, she took it down to Pittsburgh, and look at the darn thing now!

      • Russ Wood permalink
        June 18, 2021 3:16 pm

        There’s an old London version (courtesy of Spike Milligan):
        “I shot an arrow in the air…
        – it stuck!”

  3. Harry Passfield permalink
    June 17, 2021 1:10 pm

    I spent the first seven years of my life virtually in sight of the town gas works and the next eight at school in filthy Brum. It’s a tired old saying but the young don’t know they’re born. They also don’t know what fog lights are for ‘cos they rarely come across impenetrable fog/smog.
    The anger I feel at seeing the dishonesty in the green causes is more likely now to see me off than pollution.

    • miket permalink
      June 17, 2021 2:30 pm

      Absolutely! (your last sentence)

    • June 17, 2021 9:23 pm

      Well said, the young do not understand just how we were living, first the War, and living in anderson sheltert, then shortages of food and not least lack of coal to keep the fire gouing.

  4. Colin permalink
    June 17, 2021 1:22 pm

    If PM10’s and PM2.5’s are killing 30000 people a year then it’s fairly simple mathematics to determine that the average smoker is dead within a year, given that one cigarette a fortnight will have you exceeding the EU safe limit for particulates.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      June 17, 2021 1:52 pm

      And the lawns littered with the dead around the still smoking BBQ.

    • ALBACHIEL permalink
      June 17, 2021 7:26 pm

      Goods math’s Colin, I remember getting attending lectures on fags 30 plus years ago saying there were over 500 carcinogen’s in each one!

  5. Broadlands permalink
    June 17, 2021 1:51 pm

    It is interesting that neither carbon dioxide nor water vapor were mentioned as “pollutants” demanding more action. CO2 is “guilty” on almost every other day. H2O is not. But carbon cannot be burned without emitting both. The “pollutant” being removed is plentiful oxygen. It has been that way since photosynthesis and respiration were invented billions of years ago. The energy needed comes from the Sun. The energy stored by geological burial has made our lives much better. And those two “waste” products have kept the planet habitable.

  6. Martin permalink
    June 17, 2021 1:59 pm

    Given the indisputable decline in the level of all pollutants over the years we would have expected to see a matching decline in deaths from claimed associated causes, but have we? If not then the claim that current levels of pollution are causing increasing numbers of deaths must be false.

    • Robert Christopher permalink
      June 17, 2021 2:31 pm

      I went into our our local library this week to pass the time while waiting to meet someone, and seeing the dearth of Science books in the adult section, I thought I would see what the children’s section had on the subject.
      I found a delightful book with many varied Science subjects discussed, with some wonderful information and brief explanations that I thought were suitable for a young teenager.
      Just the job I thought! So, as a final check 🙂 I looked up ‘Global Warming’ and didn’t find an entry: I couldn’t believe it!
      What about Greenhouse gases, I thought. From here, my story isn’t a happy one. Apart from an ‘It’s All Our Fault’ type of heading, it only mentioned CO2 as the culprit, and the rest I can’t remember as I try to avoid remembering trash!
      I don’t know how any credible Scientist can teach this stuff to children. Not only is it completely incorrect, it means that the rest of Scientific knowledge has to be distorted to fit the narrative: and we want young knowledgeable school leavers to become tomorrow’s Engineers and Scientists as there are many aspiring countries competing in the marketplace ready to win market share at our expense.

      That would curtail our freedoms with not much chance of escape.

  7. MikeHig permalink
    June 17, 2021 2:03 pm

    I read a while back that someone used those mortality models to estimate the deaths from air pollution back in the 50s (iirc). The resulting figure was greater than the total of deaths from all causes in the year in question…..

    • Dave Gardner permalink
      June 17, 2021 3:01 pm

      Yes I vaguely remember a news story like that around ten years ago. I managed to track it down:

      It related to pollution deaths in Canadian cities, and Ross McKitrick checked the plausibilty of the claims:

      “McKitrick says his investigation into the reliability of smog-death calculations was initially prompted by the outrageous size of the claims, particularly considering that several decades of stringent environmental regulations have sharply lowered observed levels of air pollution in most Canadian cities. His first step was to back-test the results by inputting data from the 1960s to existing models, as described above. If a model can’t reliably explain what has already occurred, what are the chances it can predict the future?

      “The results I got suggest the models are implausible,” he says. “They’re attributing over 100% of all deaths to air pollution. It just doesn’t make sense.””

  8. dearieem permalink
    June 17, 2021 2:24 pm

    I remember steam trains. Their filthy smoke had a foul stench.

    • David Wild permalink
      June 17, 2021 9:33 pm

      In my youth I lived in rural North Wales. However, there was a major engine shed about 1 mile from my home. Washing could not be left out overnight or even had to be brought in during the day if the wind was in the wrong direction. The clothes lines also had to be quickly brought in once the washing was dry.
      Oh for the good old days…..

      • Russ Wood permalink
        June 18, 2021 3:18 pm

        As a kid, I lived next to a big, busy rail siding. Yep! Dirty washing when the wind changed. Now, Steam is regarded as ‘clean’?

    • Slingshot permalink
      June 18, 2021 12:21 am

      I love the smell of coal fires outside on a cold evening and coal-fired steam engines when they’ve got a head of steam up.

  9. Joe Public permalink
    June 17, 2021 2:47 pm

    On the subject of clean air, greenies rarely acknowledge that ” …. domestic wood burning in both closed stoves and open fires was responsible for 38% of pollution particles under 2.5 microns in size, three times more than road traffic.”

  10. Mack permalink
    June 17, 2021 3:27 pm

    36,000 deaths from air pollution? I suspect that I might be able to fit all of the death certificates with ‘air pollution’ listed as a cause of death into a very thin envelope.

  11. Steve permalink
    June 17, 2021 4:51 pm

    When the London ULEZ zone was brought in and pressure groups such as Clean Air London and the Doctor charletans who paraded children around wearing masks I got hold of a publication by Kings College which was written by one statistician and have a breakdown of emissions and predicted effects. By taking the proportion of cars and PMs produced and NO2, it was plain that the extension of life expectancy by banning diesel cars and vans was around a week. In other words not measurable. When we argued this, the same team added two right on zealots and revamped their report to increase the proportion of PMs and NO2 from 5% to 40%. The date had gone forward to 2025 and the other forms of pollution had been reduced in order to alter the proportion. The absolute emissions of particulates was the same, with brakes and tyres of electric cars unchanged.
    This has not stopped the mayor from extending the ULEZ zone half way out to the ring road. Meanwhile respiratory disease has not changed, despite all the extra congestion caused by cycle lanes.

  12. June 17, 2021 4:51 pm

    I was born and brought up in a village in Derbyshire, overlooking Sheffield – except in the 50s you couldn’t see Sheffield, just a blanket of smog. My mother was always complaining about the state of my father’s shirt collars and cuffs when he came home from working in Sheffield. All the buildings (a lot missing because of the blitz) were black with grime. The Clean Ar Act got rid of all the air pollution problems – which only became bad again after the government went all out for diesel vehicles because cliamte change. People have never had it so good (as somebody said).

    The big problem is that regulators keep having to keep finding problems to regulate ever more tightly, or they are out of a job.

  13. Jack Broughton permalink
    June 17, 2021 5:13 pm

    I was approached outside the supermarket today by two very sincere (and pretty) young ladies who asked me to sign up for Clean Air Day Action ….. after I had regaled them with the facts above and some others (about the lack of change over the Covid shut-down and the imported pollutants from Europe etc) I think they were almost converted, well their eyes had certainly glazed over! Incidentally, they did not know what PM2.5 and PM10 meant but were vaguely aware what NOx was.

  14. Steve permalink
    June 17, 2021 5:23 pm

    My grandfather lived all his life in the Potteries pictured above. He died early before the war. I only recently found that before he became ill. he won national choir competitions as their conductor. The smoke didn’t seem to affect their singing. I visited my other grandparents in the 50s and saw the ducks in the park were grey. I became wheezy and could hardly breathe. Although in cleaner air I have been short of breath at altitude or running ever since.

    • Russ Wood permalink
      June 18, 2021 3:21 pm

      Bill Tidy’s book “The Great Eric Akroyd Disaster” is based around such a dirty factory district, and its champion “coughing choir”. The ‘disaster’ happened when Eric accidentally switched the smokeworks’ filters on!

  15. DENNIS ROY HARTWELL permalink
    June 17, 2021 5:45 pm

    My eldest sister lived for a few years around the ’60s in Widnes/St Helens. I remember her net curtains (everyone had them then!) rotting within a year where the top opening sash was. It was the extreme acidic nature of the air round all the chemical works round there. My sister is still alive and in her eighties (despite also being a heavy smoker !

  16. Vernon E permalink
    June 17, 2021 6:57 pm

    I was a student in Manchester in the late 1950s and I well remember November evenings feeling my way along Cheetham Hill Road to my lodgings with zero visibilty. We didn’t all die though and I often had to stop for a cig on the way.

  17. John Hultquist permalink
    June 17, 2021 7:30 pm

    Thanks Paul.
    That’s a good photo from the Potteries, so I searched it up:
    A district of west-central England in the Trent River valley. It has been noted for the manufacture of ceramics since the 1600s. Josiah Wedgwood and Josiah Spode were among the noted potters who worked in the area.

    I’m more familiar with the history of the American air quality issues.

    • Vernon E permalink
      June 18, 2021 3:01 pm

      John: My ancestor was John Baddeley of Shelton a potter of secondary importance but with some Wedgewood intermarriages. I highly recommend Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett.

  18. Gamecock permalink
    June 18, 2021 1:41 am

    ‘The campaign reels out the usual lie that air pollution causes 36,000 deaths a year in the UK.’

    Show us some bodies.

  19. iggie permalink
    June 18, 2021 5:47 am

    After Earth Watch in 1970 it was decided that carbon monoxide from cars was a major pollutant causing global cooling. In order to address this problem, catalytic convertors were added to cars’ exhausts to change the CM to carbon dioxide. That worked well.

  20. It doesn't add up... permalink
    June 18, 2021 1:49 pm

    This chart shows the number of days per year when the Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI) for the West Midlands conurbation fell into various categories. It’s based on taking the worst scoring pollutant each day. As you can see, the overwhelming majority of days qualify as low levels of pollution and good air quality, with no reason to have any concerns. On a few days each year, pollution reaches moderate levels, where the advice is that almost everyone can continue with their normal activities. Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, who experience symptoms, should consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors. Get off your bike. Drive or take the bus instead. And on just a couple of days a year it goes into the higher pollution category, driven by weather and pollution coming in from the Continent, or perhaps fireworks and bonfires from Guy Fawkes or Diwali followed by a still day.

    For this, they are imposing anti car taxes that will do almost nothing to improve air quality. Presumably when that fails, the next turn of the ratchet to suppress normal life will be brought in.

  21. NeilC permalink
    June 18, 2021 1:57 pm

    I have two images of what was the North British Hotel in Edinburgh from the 1960s, now the Balmoral.Hotel, which was cleaned up in the 1990s (I think). The difference is remarkable, the old one was black, cleaned up it is the colour of sandstone and has been for 25 years..

    • Russ Wood permalink
      June 18, 2021 3:24 pm

      I never, up to my teens, thought that Liverpool’s St George’s Hall was anything but black. Then, once the Clean Air act had come in, the Hall was cleaned to its original light-coloured sandstone.

  22. June 18, 2021 9:34 pm

    Thursday 17 June 2021
    Clean Air Day usually happens on the third Thursday of June.

    Each year there is a second bite too
    “Sep 7, 2020 UN International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies.”

    So would any media be super lazy and simply repeat PR as news #PRasNews ?

    #1 For Kids : BBC Newsround
    Clean Air Day 2021: Over a quarter of UK schools in areas of high pollution
    (just 3 tweets)

    #2 Leeds BBC

    • June 18, 2021 9:41 pm

      Silly me, there is a third day “October 8th”
      as tweeted by Dyson and MPs like Ruth Edwards etc.
      Seems to feature the same sciency activists as the other 2

  23. June 18, 2021 9:49 pm

    #3 Derby : BBC East Midlands Today

  24. June 18, 2021 9:51 pm

    #4-#7 ITV

    #7 Friday’s ITV Calendar presented by the weatherman Jon Mitchell.
    He used expert Alistair Lewis of York Uni.
    says cities are the problem. Made grand claims about man-made pollution forgetting about pollen etc
    (asthma attacks correlate with grass pollen
    .. although manmade pollution doesn’t help)
    He made the claim pollution causes 28K to 36K deaths per year
    ( ..FakeNews … he’d be pushed to show us 1 death certificate nevermind 36K)

    Next unnamed expert made asthnma claims
    Ah it’s Prof Jonathan Grigg (he founded a campaign group DoctorsAgainstDiesel which helped the Times promote electric cars, but fell a bit flat)

    The ITV Jon highlights the new AQI Air Quality Index graph, that they’ll be using on future shows.
    He made no mention of today’s pollution levels … Why’s that ?
    cos today air pollution is zero .. it’s been raining all day so it’s all been washed out.

    He finally mentioned natural stuff like Sahara dust quickly at the end.

  25. June 18, 2021 9:52 pm

    #8-50 a list of councils mainly Labour

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