Smog is a kind of air pollution, originally named for the mixture of smoke and fog in the air.
Classic smog results from large amounts of coal burning in an area and is caused by a mixture of smoke and sulfur dioxide.
In the 1950s a new type of smog, known as Photochemical Smog, was first described.
Smog is a problem in a number of cities and continues to harm human health.
Ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide carbon monoxide are especially harmful for senior citizens, children, and people with heart and lung conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma.
It can inflame breathing passages, decreasing the lungs' working capacity, and causing shortness of breath, pain when inhaling deeply, wheezing, and coughing.
It can cause eye and nose irritation and it dries out the protective membranes of the nose and throat and interferes with the body's ability to fight infection, increasing susceptibility to illness.
Hospital admissions and respiratory deaths often increase during periods when ozone levels are high.
EPA has developed an Air Quality index to help explain air pollution levels to the general public. 8 hour average ozone concentrations of 85 to 104 ppbv are described as "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups", 105 ppbv to 124 ppbv as "unhealthy" and 125 ppb to 404 ppb as "very unhealthy." Smog can form in almost any climate where industries or cities release large amounts of air pollution.
However, it is worse during periods of warmer, sunnier weather when the upper air is warm enough to inhibit vertical circulation.
It is especially prevalent in geologic basins encircled by hills or mountains.
It often stays for an extended period of time over densely populated cities or urban areas, such as London, New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Houston, Toronto, Athens, Beijing, Hong Kong, the Randstad or Ruhr Area and can build up to dangerous levels.