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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Control of Air Pollution in Manchester prior to the Public Health Act, 1875.

Catherine Bowler and Peter Brimblecombe

Environment and History 6(2000): 71-98

Industrialising cities of the 19th century are seen as lax in environmental matters. However, Manchester took a strong stand against air pollution. It modified complex medieval administrative practices to address industrial pollution, and created new bodies (e.g. Police Commissioners) that considered environmental matters. Its committees and inspectors worked diligently, but pro-industrial sympathies prevented systematic prosecution of industrial offenders. Nevertheless, the smoke menace was certainly systematically addressed. Effective response was limited by inadequate abatement technology, despite a rapid evolution of the administrative policy prior to the Public Health Act 1875.

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