Smoky City: A History of Air Pollution in Newcastle, NSW by Associate Professor Howard Bridgman and Dr Nancy Cushing tells the story of how Newcastle came to be the polluted industrial place it was. Combining both historic and scientific approaches the book describes the development of industry, transport, housing and other factors that fouled the air and the impact this had on people's lives.
For many years the reputation of Newcastle, NSW, was that of a smoky industrial city. Novocastrians who remember when the BHP dominated the skyline recall the acrid haze that regularly enveloped the city and, in more recent times, fine black coal dust has affected the lives of residents.
Dr Cushing, an historian in the School of Humanities and Social Science, and Conjoint Associate Professor Bridgman, an atmospheric scientist in the School of Environmental and Life Sciences, worked in collaboration for the book to combine science and public perception.
Dr Cushing stated that even though Newcastle is a smoky city no more, it does not mean the end of air quality concerns.
"We know now that it is smaller particles and gases that can be dangerous to health, not the visible black smoke which caused so much concern in the past. At the other end of the scale of particulate matter, the coal chain continues to produce concerns with dust as the coal is mined, transported and loaded," Dr Cushing said. "Combining scientific and historical approaches offers new insights into air pollution and its management, and can inform strategies for the future."
Readers also meet the Novocastrians whose ground-breaking campaigns to clean up the city led to dramatically cleaner air for Newcastle.
This illustrated book will capture the imagination of anyone interested in environmental, industrial or Australian history.