Acid Rain and the Rise of the Environmental Chemist in by Peter Reed

By Peter Reed

Robert Angus Smith (1817-1884) used to be a Scottish chemist and a number one investigator into what got here to be often called 'acid rain'. This examine of his operating existence, contextualized via dialogue of his youth, schooling, ideals, relatives, pursuits and affects sheds gentle at the evolving knowing of sanitary technological know-how through the 19th century. Born in Glasgow and firstly educated for a profession within the Church of Scotland, Smith in its place went directly to examine chemistry in Germany lower than Justus von Liebig. On his go back to Manchester within the 1840s, Smith's robust Calvinist religion lead him to enhance a powerful quandary for the insanitary environmental stipulations in Manchester and different business cities in Britain. His appointment as Inspector of the Alkali management in 1863 enabled him to marry his social issues and his paintings as an analytical chemist, and this booklet explores his function as Inspector of the management from its inception via battles with chemical brands within the courts, to the fight to widen and tighten the regulatory framework as different destructive chemical nuisances turned identified. This learn of Smith's lifestyles and paintings offers a huge heritage to the way in which that 'chemical' got here to have such unfavourable connotations within the century sooner than book of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. It additionally deals a desirable perception into the altering panorama of British politics as legislation and enforcement of the chemical industries got here to be obvious as worthy, and is key examining for historians of technology, expertise and within the 19th century, in addition to environmental historians looking history context to the twentieth-century environmental hobbies.

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Extra info for Acid Rain and the Rise of the Environmental Chemist in Nineteenth-Century Britain

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14 Liebig’s work over many years was a direct challenge to such a view. But his concerns went wider, for he saw science and particularly chemistry leading the way in bringing benefits to all in society and overcoming the harsh and oppressive living conditions that so many found themselves in. This acted as a carrion call for many of Liebig’s students, and for Angus Smith and for Lyon Playfair it was to become the raison d’être underpinning their future commitments to improving public health. Influence of Meetings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) The BAAS was formed in York in 1831.

Knowledge of organic chemistry in the 1830s was rudimentary but Liebig had begun to use his system of analysis to elucidate the composition of organic substances and to apply the knowledge of these substances to advance medicine, pharmacy and agriculture. When Liebig returned to Giessen he had been away for two months and, as William Brock has summarized, the visit was of great importance in Liebig’s intellectual development. H. Brock, Justus von Liebig, The Chemical Gatekeeper (Cambridge, 1997), pp.

63 In 1844, when Lyon Playfair left Manchester to take up an appointment at the Geological Survey in London, Angus Smith decided to remain in Manchester and pursue a consultancy business with a wide range of services that included carrying out routine chemical analysis for a variety of clients, advising on the operation of chemical works, investigating air quality, analysing water for railway companies and sanitary authorities, and offering advice generally on scientific matters. With Manchester developing as a major industrial metropolis, it was to prove a very good base for Angus Smith.

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