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Source: Ullstein Bilderdienst

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Phase III smog alarm

"Dense fog will settle across the whole of the bulletRuhr area in the early hours," warns the radio weatherman on 17 January 1985. But this is no ordinary misty morning. Later, a Phase III bulletsmog alarm is called!

??umes - always in the air, getting in your eyes and up your nose. They're especially dangerous for small children.

On 17 January the atmosphere is so bad that a Phase III smog alarm has to be called across the Ruhr industrial area. Many schools have to be shut, not least to make space on buses and trams for all those adults who are forced to leave their bulletcar at home in the morning.

Phase III means a ban on driving! Catalytic converters are not yet compulsory, so sulphur dioxide levels are particularly high in 1985.

Smoke + fog = smog. When heavy cold air is trapped at ground level by layers of lighter warm air above, and there's no wind to blow it away, there is insufficient exchange between these layers and toxic concentrations will build up in the cold air, sometimes staying at dangerous levels. Not until 20 January is the all-clear given in most Ruhr cities.

Dirk Bitzer

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