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Following recorded programs distributed through the facilities of the National Association of educational broadcasters just hold your breath. Hold your breath as long as you can go through and discover how vital this natural resource is. Yes there is the most precious substance we have when it's clean it's healthy and useful. One of the polluted it's costly and to kill air pollution is a threat to our way of life and you should know more about it. In these radio programs produced by Michigan State University under a grant from United States Public Health Service. Every aspect of this national problem from health effect to economic considerations will be discussed. Air pollution will be viewed by legislators scientists and public health officials representatives of industry of why
we challenge you to draw some logical and responsible conclusions. This is the final program in the series. Today we shall attempt to look at the prospects for tomorrow's air through the eyes of present knowledge techniques and capabilities. I will attempt to summarize some of the things we've learned about air pollution in previous programs and we'll meet some of the people who are the prime movers in air pollution control in this country. Mr. McKenzie in your position as chief of the division of air pollution for the Public Health Service. Do you think that this population growth that we're having in the United States will compound the air pollution problem. Well certainly population growth is one of several factors it's an important factor in the price. The problem of air pollution. Now in addition to the general growth of population and a few other factors I think should be mentioned also.
Among these are the increasing concentration of people in urban areas. Which is a fact of our civilization in the United States. Our burgeoning industrial growth is another factor. And associated with this is the increasing use of energy both in an absolute sense and in a per capita sense. And this means that. There are more people. More concentrated in limited areas in our country in that they are using more materials and energy all of which contribute to an increasing intensity of air pollution in the areas of population growth and concentration. Now all of. These of course all work together. And basically it is these factors which contribute to the.
Increasing importance of the air pollution problem. The primary need here perhaps lies in two fundamental areas. First the recognition by those responsible in government in industry and by the public that we have a bear by the tail. We've got a real problem to deal with. This is fundamental to action of a democratic society such as we have. Secondly with the acceptance of the existence of the problem. Then and acceptance of responsibility and the sharing of this responsibility because there isn't any scapegoat. That the blame can be put on. This is a problem. Of our community and must be accepted as such. We which
we all share. We must work together to deal with Mr. McKENZIE. I've heard it allege that the public health service should limit its activities and air pollution control to. The health of research ship. Part of this. Could you share with us a little bit as to the philosophy of the air pollution control activities of the service as you see them. I will be glad to. Consideration of the effects of air pollution on health of people is of paramount importance to the public health service not only research on this problem but also stimulation and leadership. In the application of. Suitable procedures to control the hazard. Or the pollutant emissions which.
Produce the hazard to health. Now. We in the public health. Field can never wait until. We know. All of the answers to a particular problem. When. A problem has been delineated as having an effect on health. One hundred years ago. In many of our cities. There were. Epidemics of intestinal disease. Caused by defects in the environment. That time. This was before the science of bacteriology had been developed. Some forward looking people at that time. Associated. These health problems
with. Factors in the environment such as water supply and waste disposal. Without understanding fully the scientific parameters that were involved but made proposals that would improve the environmental situation. Before. All of the scientific aspects were understood. These were adopted is being sensible. And straightforward. They were effective. It wasn't until many years later. That all of the scientific reasons were fully understood. But it was effective public health practice. And community action. In the same way. We don't understand all of the adverse effects that come from air pollution on people. And I don't know any of
what that's good for them. And I know some of it that is definitely bad. I think in the same way we need to protect our air resource. With. Out understanding always all of the scientific answers. But having a logical. Reason for our actions. In the long run I am sure this will pay off. I don't mean that we should neglect to conduct further research to elite elucidate. Fully. The scientific. Factors that are associated here so that we can do a better job in our. Practices will become. More rational as we develop them. But we can't stand still and say that we won't take an action until we know that
it is necessary to. Prevent. The illness of death or death of certain people. And unless we do. These are the reasons why it will happen. Now the. Advantages to health. Will be supplemented by economic advantages and these can not be fully separated. The same irritant gases for instance that adversely affect. Our respire a Tory function or. Have been shown to be able to do this. Also corrode. Metals and materials. So that if we could. Control only missions of such gases. We are dealing not only with a health problem but we're dealing with an economic problem as well. These are inseparable and want to control program is organized on a state or
local. Based basis or level. The. Health considerations and the economic considerations are inseparable. They cannot be separate. That was Vernon Jean McKenzie chief of the division of air pollution summarizing his agency's attitude toward the preservation of the air resource as individual citizens we need to play an important role in the development of official policies on air pollution control through our congressman and more specifically in special committees. The interests of clean air are served by respond Roberts from your vantage point as chairman of the Subcommittee on Health and safety of the House Committee on interstate and foreign commerce. What is the part that you believe that the federal government should play in the control of air pollution. I think the Fed. Government should take the leadership and burnishing technical systems.
I think that it should assist the states and local communities in controlling innovating air pollution. I think it should serve as a central body to collect information you know we have this air sampling operative now that we are making in various cities throughout the country where we get a data by day by day check on the amount of sediment or on burn hydrocarbons that are thrown into that was fear. I think that the federal government is in a very fine position to serve as the clearing house for the exchange of this information. It is my opinion that in some of these cities this is a local problem some of the citizen States is purely a local problem. And we must depend on the civic mindedness of the leadership of the business community the leadership of the public officials and the people who are interested of course in clearing the air so to speak.
I do not believe that the federal government has enough money. To do this job alone I think we must furnish leadership. I must point the way. But I believe that in the final analysis the local communities and states are going to have to do a great deal of the job well out. Congressman Roberts again from your vantage point is chairman of an important committee of the Congress. Would you care to comment just a little more upon what the states and local communities should be concerning themselves with in the field of air pollution control. Well many of the states are making a very fine effort. I refer particularly to the Los Angeles area where the California citizens have spent millions of dollars in trying to bring about control of this serious problem. Pittsburgh Pennsylvania comes to my mind as a city that has done an excellent job. I know a little bit about Pittsburgh because of Birmingham Alabama
has a lot in common it's also of great steel center and many of our Birmingham citizens came from the Pittsburgh area. And I think that the local communities can do a great deal more than some of them have done. I don't mean to criticize these cities and communities but I do believe that local efforts can be very successful and I do not think that they should expect a United States government to solve every problem that arises in the community. So when you have an opinion as to the conflict between industrial expansion and air pollution control requirements. I doubt seriously if I am qualified to speak in this brief time on that particular phase Ali I do think however that in the planning of our cities we should take into consideration the location and placement of various parts of the industrial community
and that had we given this type of. Foresight to this problem I think many of our cities would not be suffering with this problem where pollution as they are today. Well Congressman Roberts how low in your opinion could you would by both the federal and the state and the local air pollution control authorities. How could the could you advise them as to make the problem relating to air pollution and its control more meaningful to the average citizen. I think they can do this with a series of community meetings now in some areas such as the Birmingham area. The Chamber of Commerce of the city of Birmingham has made it their business to see that the citizens of Birmingham are informed about the problem. No they stand up and know the dangers of it. And I think they have done a very good job in many other cities throughout the country and informing the citizenship
once they know the facts they will then seek to do something about it. The role of research in technical assistance played by the federal government is assumed large lay through the Robert a Taft sanitary engineering center in Cincinnati Ohio. Their acting director Mr. Joseph IIf Lanigan Jr. is in a good position to view control developments throughout the country. As to Flanagan do you think that state and local air pollution control authorities are in general headed in the right direction in the efforts that they are making today. Yes I do think that the authorities are moving in the right direction again. Locally there are wide discrepancies in the programs. Some units because of their pattern of stamping only inspect sources of air pollution without measuring the pollutants themselves. Other units operate without sufficiently good logs. Others like trained professional
personnel. It seems to us that there has to be a more concerted approach in both staffing and function of air pollution control agencies if we do or if we are to expect more uniform results in the forthcoming years. Air pollution control costs a lot of money is the problem really big enough to warrant the expenditure of these tremendous sums of money for industry or by industry for its control. Your use of the word tremendous I think requires a little elaboration from my point of view in trying to answer this question. A few years ago there was a national conference on air pollution and among other things which came out of that conference was an estimate of economic damage due to air pollution said to be approximately seven billion dollars. And this was per year per. This
is per year per year and this was exclusive of any help. It's no one apparently cared to try to put a figure upon this. Now this economic damage included the costs of. And do cleaning. Up. Soiling damage to vegetation damage to animals corrosion interference with air and ground transportation and other things of this car now against the estimate of a cell seven billion dolls for economic damage. Our Service estimates that approximately 500 million dollars is spent by industry for control of air pollution. The budget at the present time of the federal government for research technical assistance and training is approximately 11 million dollars and the combination of a few states and several local governmental units. Adds about
ten point five million dollars to this total. So we therefore have something in the order of five hundred and twenty one million dollars being spent to take care of a problem which causes 7 billion dollars worth of damage. This. These are the this is the comparison which I would like to use as against the use of the word tremendous sums and in making any judgment with respect to whether we can afford to go after this problem at either the present rate or at a more intensive rate of expenditure in the future of signal importance in the division of air pollution programme for clean air is the technical assistance branch the invasion of air pollution into our private lives is a social problem. Its Control is a scientific one. This gentleman as chief of the technical assistance branch
of the division of our pollution of the Public Health Service. How would you apprise the air pollution problem in the United States today. I consider it one of a very large magnitude with respect to its effects on public health. But not alone health but also the many nuisance aspects it causes discomfort to the people and property damage. It degrades neighborhoods and causes damage to vegetation and animals and depresses our citizens when they live in communities where the bright sun shiny sun doesn't get through on many of the days. It seems to be a problem that is growing more serious as our communities grow as our population becomes increasingly urbanized and has or need for energy and community activities of all kinds. Increase with the increasing population of the country. Rest assured him and his are growing the population and the things that go along with
the growing population. Is this going to compound the air pollution problem so that our present efforts are going to be on satisfactory. Well I don't think anyone would question that the tremendous growth that the country is going through is characterized by the population increases with associated activities in the industrial fuel use transportation and all other lines is increasing the amount of pollution that is discharged to the atmosphere. And unless we take some action to reduce these emissions to the atmosphere the problem can do nothing else and get worse. The amount of attention being given to the problem though I believe is inadequate. We have not giving suitable attention to planning our communities so that we locate pollution sources in those areas where we would likely are to be cleanest. We aren't giving suitable attention to the relative placement of these
types of land users in our communities and we're not giving consideration to the routing of automobiles which emit pollutants through our residential areas things of those types. There's not enough work being done on research on certain problems and particularly the control of emission of nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide from combustion of coal and oil. These are major problems and. It's my feeling that the research efforts being made to find ways to prevent or informational remission of these pollutants is is not sufficient in the struggle for clean air the activities and projects at the Robert a Taft sanitary engineering center in Cincinnati Ohio are very important. Their acting director Mr. Joseph Flanagan explains the function of the center. Would you amplify just a little bit of what the role of this Taft Engineering Center is in the total area air pollution control.
This was established to carry out research activities technical assistance activities in training activities for a series of operating divisions within the public health service. One of these operating divisions is the division of air pollution. The young home office in Washington of this particular division is responsible for determining the policy under which all of the work is carried out. It is responsible for our obtaining the. Particular operating budget from Congress on an annual basis. It is responsible for relationships between the federal agencies for contracts with federal groups and relationships with private groups such as industrial trade associations etc.. The bulk of the work of the division under the headings of research technical assistance and training is carried
out at this stage. I'd like to say something specific about the training work. The training activity in air pollution is similar to that which is carried out for other divisions of the service and is aimed primarily at avoiding the people employed by state and local health agencies or other appropriate state or local governmental units concerned with air pollution to come to this server to take refresher courses. The program is not an educational one in the sense that. A university carries out and educational program. It is a refresher type of thing in nature. Courses vary from as little as two days duration to as long as six weeks and all of the work is post-graduate in nature whether in chemistry physics electronics sanitary engineering or any other appropriate subject being studied by a particular individual. The
scope of the research work is about as broad as the list of problems that you might care to cite in the air pollution field and the scope of the technical assistance work is equally broad. Also. The answering all requests for are. The solution. Of rather difficult technical problems is not new to the service and is particularly not new to the so the center has become a home of a relatively small number of highly skilled specialists who fortunately are able to supplement the excellent skills which the Santeria engineers and others have who are employed with the state. Our health or air pollution agencies wherever they may be. Well our in view of this would you care to comment as to whether or not the facilities which you have here at the Taft center are adequate to do the job that people
expect you to do. I think that the facilities of the temps are at the present time I suppose into the facilities in any other single place in the United States. If the hardware exists in the form of equipment that has been designed it is necessary to do a job. We usually have an example of it here and we have people who know how to use. How about all of the equipment that we have is not equally useful. In recent years the name electronic industry has been adapting many of the earlier devices common to the field of industrial hygiene to air pollution investigations. The trouble occurs in the air pollution field because usually the levels of contaminants which have been measured are orders of magnitude lower than those usually
met in an exposure in a particular industry. The equipment is not sensitive enough. Other types of equipment provide scanning in the field of chemistry for example. But to be able to precisely say and determine what it is that you have after putting your pollutant materials through these particular pieces of equipment this leaves much to be desired also. There also are some skills which still have to be developed in the field of air pollution. There is a wide variety of professional people working on all of these problems. I feel that the tail sitter probably is doing as well as any other one group but we like others still have much to learn before we will reach appropriate solutions of many of the problems with which we are faced. Through the combined activities of federal state and local control efforts
active citizen interest and increased cooperation from pollution sources. Progress is being made toward cleaner air. The effort to date has not been sufficient to keep pace with the expanding population and industrialization. The challenge is great. Dr Luther Terry United States surgeon general said in his keynote address at the last national conference on air pollution. And we quote the horizons of American life were never more challenging the adventures never more exciting nor potentially more rewarding. We have a new frontier to conquer. I refer neither to our vanished western frontier of which the cowboy is still an enduring symbol of the new frontier of interplanetary space symbolized by the space man. I refer rather to the front here which can be conquered only through the creation of a physical social and cultural environment in which people can achieve the highest possible levels of health and environment in which to paraphrase a famous statement by William Faulkner. Mankind may
prevail not merely survive. This challenge offers opportunities for adventure is second to none in importance and will benefit millions of people alive and more millions yet unborn. Even after it has become commonplace to stand on the moon breathing smog free air under an artificial canopy people will still need to find their essential fulfillment here on Earth. We cannot confine our great accomplishments to the calm and dispassionate atmosphere of the laboratory. We must move out into the sun on the small where ugliness blights our fairest cities where rivers which once moved clear and blue are now laden with filth where traffic stands still and there is no place to walk where chronic diseases continue to rise in an era of unparalleled affluence and where health is still regarded by and large as a negative condition in which there is an apparent absence of pain or disability. Certainly now when we can and do determine by chance or by choice the structure of our environment we
Hold your breath
Tomorrow's air
Producing Organization
Michigan State University
WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the quality of air in the future.
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This series focuses on air pollution and its impact on America.
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Social Issues
Public Affairs
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Interviewee: MacKenzie, Vernon G.
Interviewee: Flanagan, Joseph E., Jr.
Interviewer: Heustis, Albert E.
Producer: Ford, Patrick
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 63-36-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:24
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Chicago: “Hold your breath; Tomorrow's air,” 1963-12-05, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 20, 2022,
MLA: “Hold your breath; Tomorrow's air.” 1963-12-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 20, 2022. <>.
APA: Hold your breath; Tomorrow's air. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from