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 referred to as 'acid rain'. This examine of his operating lifestyles, contextualized via dialogue of his youth, schooling, ideals, kinfolk, pursuits and impacts sheds gentle at the evolving figuring out of sanitary technology throughout the 19th century. Born in Glasgow and first and foremost proficient for a profession within the Church of Scotland, Smith as an alternative went directly to examine chemistry in Germany lower than Justus von Liebig. On his go back to Manchester within the 1840s, Smith's powerful Calvinist religion lead him to strengthen a powerful problem 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 position 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 damaging chemical nuisances turned recognized. This research of Smith's lifestyles and paintings offers a huge heritage to the best way that 'chemical' got here to have such damaging connotations within the century prior to booklet of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. It additionally bargains a desirable perception into the altering panorama of British politics as legislation and enforcement of the chemical industries got here to be noticeable as invaluable, and is key examining for historians of technology, expertise and within the 19th century, in addition to environmental historians looking heritage context to the twentieth-century environmental routine.

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1–28. 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.

As his name became more widely known, so his consultancy work extended well beyond the city boundaries to give him a national presence. The standing of science and scientists was also enhanced by the expansion in university education during the nineteenth century. For chemistry, an important event occurred in 1845 with the founding of the Royal College of Chemistry in London. It had been possible to study chemistry earlier at mechanics institutes, Scottish universities, medical colleges, University College London (1826), King’s College London (1828), University of Durham (1833) and also at Oxford and Cambridge, although in the main the subject was studied as part of a medical qualification.

47 With science underpinning his work as a government inspector, Angus Smith quickly realized that it was very important not to alienate those who relied on his professional advice, such as fellow scientists, manufacturers and businessmen, civil servants and parliamentarians. Nevertheless, Angus Smith’s collection of 89 books on the occult is testament to his enduring and private fascination with spiritualism. He was a member of the Society for Psychical Research from 1882 to 1884. person who introduced him to spiritualism ‘some six months ago’ as an ‘FRS … foremost in the rank of experimental philosophy’.

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