Urban air pollution is certainly not a new problem. During the Middle Ages the use of coal in cities such as London was beginning to increase. By the the 17th century the problems of urban air pollution are well documented.

The Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries was based on the use of coal. In addition the burning of coal in homes for domestic heat pusehed urban air pollution levels further up with sometime disastrous results. The Great London Smog of 1952 resulted in around 4,000 extra deaths in the city, and led to the introduction of the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968.

The problems realated to air pollution, past and present, are well known but less known is the cultural history attached to air pollution. In this edition of Exploring Environmental History Stephen Mosley of Leeds Beckett University explores how Victorians and Edwardians viewed air pollution and how they dealt with it. He also suggests that there is a continuation of perceptions of air pollution that links us with the Victorians.