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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Breathe uneasy

London has the world’s most polluted air on some measures—and it really is a killer

Ozone flare

A dangerous gas where the trend is going the wrong way

A generation ago, Britain’s city-dwellers thought of local air pollution as a problem that was on the way to being licked—the smogs of the 1950s were fading from memory. But some forms of pollution have got worse since. Ozone doesn’t sound scary: it’s made out of oxygen, and occurs naturally, especially very high up, in the “layer” that shields us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. But this pungent gas is also created closer to the ground in reactions between sunlight and other pollutants, especially on hot still days. Urban ozone is now at almost double 1988 concentrations. The molecule, O3, has three atoms, not the usual two, which makes it unstable. It reacts with all sorts of things, including inside the body, where it causes lung problems.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s August issue: Adam Tooze, Helen Thompson, Ben Chu, Julian Baggini, Tom Clark and Hepzibah Anderson reveal the secret history of the banking crisis and its impact over the last decade. Tooze examines the secret history itself, suggesting the work done to repair the world’s finances could mean another crisis is just around the corner. Chu asks why more people at the top of the banks that failed haven’t faced more serious repercussions, and Anderson shows how post-crash Britain has retreated into cosiness. Elsewhere in the issue Alison Wolf asks whether universities are doing any good, and David Goldblatt explores how the decision to take football off free-to-view television in Argentina could backfire for the government. Also in this issue: Kasia Boddy asks why writers are still addicted to watching boxing despite falling viewing figures, Andrew Dickson profiles Tom Stoppard, Stephen Bush explains how Jeremy Corbyn learned to compromise and David Omand outlines the cyber-security challenges facing the UK and the wider world.