Ecology: Menace in the Skies

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On the morning of Oct. 26, 1948, at Donora, Pa., the skies delivered a deadly warning that man had poisoned them beyond endurance.

As workers trudged to their jobs, a heavy fog blanketed the bleak and grimy town. It hung suspended in the stagnant air while local businesses—steel mills, a wire factory, zinc and coke plants—continued to spew waste gases, zinc fumes, coal smoke and fly ash into the lowering darkness. The atmosphere thickened. Grime began to fall out of the smog, covering homes, sidewalks and streets with a black coating...