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 research of his operating existence, contextualized via dialogue of his early life, schooling, ideals, kinfolk, pursuits and affects sheds gentle at the evolving realizing of sanitary technology in the course of the 19th century. Born in Glasgow and firstly expert 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 boost a powerful drawback 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 ebook 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 destructive chemical nuisances grew to become identified. This examine of Smith's existence and paintings offers a huge history to the way in which that 'chemical' got here to have such unfavourable 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 law and enforcement of the chemical industries got here to be obvious as precious, and is vital analyzing for historians of technology, know-how and within the 19th century, in addition to environmental historians looking history context to the twentieth-century environmental events.
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Additional info for Acid Rain and the Rise of the Environmental Chemist in Nineteenth-Century Britain
It is through the annual meetings of the BAAS that we can see the network of chemists – Graham, Liebig, Playfair and later Angus Smith – working so effectively to advance chemical knowledge and promote its role in improving the conditions of society. It was as much through the annual meetings of the BAAS as it was through British students studying at Giessen that Liebig had such a powerful influence on British science. The first BAAS meeting Liebig attended was in Liverpool in 1837 following an invitation from Thomas Thomson, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, whose son had studied at Giessen.
367. 39 Robert Angus Smith, To Iceland in a Yacht (Edinburgh, 1873), including a series of delightful drawings by his niece, Jessie Knox Smith, and Robert Angus Smith, Visit to St. Kilda in the ‘The Nyanza’ (Glasgow, 1879). 40 Anon, ‘Obituary: Robert Angus Smith’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland XIX (1884–85) p. 6. 41 Besides the expected collection of books on chemistry, metallurgy, medicine and sanitation, the library covered subjects such as philology (346 volumes), history (721), with 84 volumes on Celtic history, natural history (39) and poetry (125).
While it was important to have wellqualified inspectors with experience of the field of inspection, it was crucial that they did not have any financial interest or close associates in the field that might undermine their authority. Mine inspectors were usually drawn from those who had mine-working experience and railway inspectors usually came from the Royal Engineers because of their prior experience with general engineering and bridge construction. It is important to emphasize that the inspectors appointed under the Alkali Act 1863, who as a group became known as the Alkali Inspectorate working within the Board of Trade, were the first scientists to be appointed as inspectors.