Smog alert

 

1957_0627_smog_hed

1957_0627_smog_chart
June 27, 1957
Los Angeles

Everybody knows that Los Angeles suffered terrible smog in the 1950s,
but without statistics, all we have are stories and photos of toxic
clouds obscuring the landscape.

In
fact, for the unfortunate people living in Los Angeles in 1957, what was
deemed a Stage 1 alert (0.5 parts per million of ozone) would be a
Stage 3 alert today. (In a Stage 2 or Stage 3 alert today, all non-emergency driving is discouraged and schoolchildren are banned from outdoor activities).

Now
for the really ghastly facts: In 1957, a Stage 2 alert was 1 ppm and a Stage 3 alert was 1.5 ppm. The Mirror notes
that  no Stage 2 or 3 alerts had ever been issued, but that in a Stage 3
alert, the governor was authorized to declare a state of emergency.

One of the most polluted days in Los Angeles history was Sept. 13,
1955, when the city reached 0.9 ppm of ozone in Vernon and 0.85
ppm downtown.

Dr. Clarence Mills of the University of Cincinnati said: "The Los
Angeles situation is so severe and so fraught with health dangers that
any pollution control program should be put on compulsory basis." Mills
urged that a Stage 1 alert be issued at 0.2 ppm, which
is, in fact, the current level. Using that figure, Los Angeles had four
Stage 1 alerts in the first six months of 1957.

When someone told Mills that his lower figure would have Los Angeles
County at a Stage 1 alert for most of the year, he replied: "That’s the
way it should be."

The California Air Resources Board link is here.

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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