The history of air quality

See how people’s impact on the air has changed over time – and how our understanding of it has changed, too!


Coal mining kicks off

People in Britain are mining coal and using it as a fuel for metal working and smelting. But after a while, they realised it was bad for their health. Oops!


Hot and bothered

Those talented Tudors are now heating their homes with coal, creating plenty of air pollution in the process.


Right royal research

Clever King Charles II knows dirty air is a big deal. He asks scientist John Evelyn to work out what coal fumes do to people – the first complete study on air pollution!


Dirty work

The Industrial Revolution and its magnificent coal-powered machines change the world. But all those factories and mills spew out thick, black soot.


A local problem

Merseyside’s now a busy, smoky place. In fact, 40% of all the world’s trade passes through Liverpool’s docks. That’s almost half!


Wheels in motion

Stephenson’s Rocket wins the Rainhill Trials locomotive competition right here in Merseyside. Coal-burning steam trains are the next big thing – bad news for air quality!


Smoggy city

Liverpool’s coal fires and industry are creating thick clouds of pollution. The air is so dirty, it even stains the outside of the Liver Building. Yuck!


Getting legal

A new law called the Clean Air Act is the first big attempt to deal with domestic air pollution. It introduces “smoke control areas” in some cities. A good start!


Petrol problem

More and more and more cars are now on Britain’s roads. All those exhaust pipes are becoming a major cause of poor air quality!

Today and beyond

We understand air quality more than ever. Young people like you are leading the way in making it cleaner and demanding change. You can help change the world!