Environmental Protection UK

1661 air pollution essay republished


Source: Environmental Protection UK

Environmental Protection UK has re-published 'Fumifugium': John Evelyn's 1661 essay on air pollution in London.

Evelyn's old English text has been translated into modern English, with a new foreword and extensive footnotes linking Fumifugium to our modern air pollution issues. It has been given a fresh, modern design and is available to download or view online as an eBook.

Evelyn was a 17th century writer, gardener and diarist. He is best known for his diaries, and was a contemporary of the famous Samuel Pepys. Evelyn was enraged by the heavy smog that often fouled the air in his home city of London. In Fumifugium he wrote to King Charles II aiming to document the impacts of air pollution on both health and the environment, and also put forward some solutions to the problem of coal smoke.

Unfortunately Charles II did little to implement Evelyn's thinking and it wasn't until the 1950s that the UK introduced effective smoke control laws. However, as coal smoke diminished the problem of traffic pollution grew, and London and many other towns and cities across the UK still suffer from high levels of air pollution from road vehicles.

Fumifugium was years ahead of its time and over the years has been re-printed on several occasions by air pollution campaigners. Environmental Protection UK (then the National Society for Clean Air) last re-printed Fumifugium in 1972.

Customer comments

  1. By David Smith on

    Well, at least thy're consistent; government didn't listen to scientific comments then, and still chooses the ostrich approach...