Environment: Bad Air Over Birmingham

For years specialists in Birmingham have been giving patients with lung diseases this grim advice: "Leave the city or die." The air is among the worst in the U.S. even on good days, but last week really dramatized the reason for the doctors' concern. On Monday night an atmospheric inversion settled over the city. The sky turned reddish-brown, as clouds of ash, soot, and foundry dust produced by the city's factories were trapped beneath. By Tuesday, the pollution level had risen to 771 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter of air, nearly...

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