Dr Alun Withey became interested in our attitudes to clean air through his study of the beard. A curious piece of Victorian wisdom caught his eye. In extolling the wisdom of the full beard a particularly keen enthusiast suggested that the beard was 'nature's respirator'. Further research lead him to the inventor of the respirator, one Julius Jeffreys, and the subsequent use of it. Following on from that was a growing understanding of how the Victorians responded to the air that they were forced to breathe in increasingly smog-bound cities.
He talks to experts today about our city air and why our thinking remains somewhat confused when it comes to our attitudes to clean air when the pea souper smogs have gone, and - without any reference to face masks used for Coronavirus protection - he explores the extent to which respirators then and now have proved either popular or effective as a response to the fundamental desire for clean air.
Producer: Tom Alban
New Generation Thinker Alun Withey reflects on our desire for clean air.
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