Hold your breath; Air pollution control in the community, part one
The following tape 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 soon discover how vital this natural resource is. Yes air is the most precious substance we have when it's clean it's healthy and useful when it's polluted. It's costly and it kills. 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 affects to economic considerations will be discussed. Air pollution will be viewed by legislators scientists and
public health officials representatives of into three parts right. We challenge you to draw some logical and responsible conclusions. In the preceding programs in the series you have heard many facts figures theories accusations and denials concerning the nature of air pollution and its control. Considering the great bulk of information available on air pollution the variety of interest groups who have a stake in its control or lack of control and the numerous research projects which continually shed new light on the problem. It's not too difficult to appreciate the enormity of the task facing the local air pollution control officer. The control official is the person directly responsible for the condition of his community's air in this and succeeding programs. You're going to meet a few of these men and learn how their departments function and how they keep their communities air clean. Mr. Fitzpatrick Could you tell us a little bit about the department of evolution control in the
city of Chicago. What is purpose is how it was organized a little bit about the history perhaps. I'd be happy to. In 1881 the Chicago City Council passed the first smoke ordinance in the United States. The first one in the United States. That's correct. The first ordinance of its nature. So you know it's passed an ordinance some years later but Chicago has the first one after 78 years of the smoke abatement activity the city council in 1959 created a new air pollution ordinance that took the department's responsibility from one of smoke abatement to that of all atmospheric pollution abatement. The fine particles in the gases in the vapors and all the effluent from the industrial processes in our city are now under the control and are the responsibility of this department. We are just scratching the surface on a program to control these other pollutants. There are approximately 10000 industrial processes going on continually in the city of Chicago and with the variety of industry we have and I understand it's the most
complex for writing the end of any city in the United States and we are beginning to set up the structure to conduct an emission inventory in the city of Chicago where we can catalog an image of these pollutants and get some quantitative information. We've had in the city Chicago for approximately 35 years dustball stations these are the small 8 inch in diameter jars that are set in rooftops throughout the city to give some indication of the dust fall that the particles that are heavy enough to fall of the ground are measured this way. But it's one of these results shown over the past years. Well our records show that in 1930 approximately three hundred tons of dust felony a mile of our city each month. Just last month in the city of Chicago where does fall was approximately 36 tons per square mile per month. That's about 10 percent of the 1030 readings from three hundred thirty six in how many years was it. About thirty two years. About thirty two years. That's correct. This is certainly a whale of a difference as yes our goal is 15 tons
per square mile per month we feel that's the backgrounder threshold level that we can reach. This is similar to what it's measured in the suburbs at the present time and if we can reach that in the city of Chicago we think we've gone as far as we can. Chicago is sometimes called the Windy City. Is this wind to make it. Well does it have any effect upon your air pollution problem. This is a misnomer that Chicago is a windy city we saw some meteorological observations of Midway Airport that were taken over 10 year period out there are approximately 85000 hourly observations and these observations show that winds in Chicago are calm 12 percent of the time that's less than three miles per hour. So that out of every 100 minutes 12 minutes of the time the winds are calm. And there's another misnomer about our winds are prevailing from the southwest. And these same observations show that the winds come out of the Southwest only 16 percent of the time they go around the entire compass for a proportionate amount of time.
So we tell people here that they shouldn't be complacent that Chicago's winds are blowing all the pollutants up the lake because there are ideal stagnation conditions. A great percentage of the time that was James Fitzpatrick director of the department of air pollution control for the city of Chicago. We'll hear more from Mr. Fitzpatrick later. Another large Midwestern city with some unique problems in the air is Detroit Michigan. Mr. Sterling as we drove into Detroit on your wonderful expressways this morning we noted or rather a gray pall hanging over the city is this air pollution and is this typical. Yes this most certainly is air pollution and unfortunately it is typical for this time of the year the atmospheric conditions and the meteorology is such that it's the fall season that we have a somewhat longer lasting inversion in the especially in the mornings and the late evenings. And the materials which I discharge from the.
Various sources many sources in this community become quite evident by building up during this period of time. Where is this material coming from that we see. Well the material you can't pinpoint and say this X particle came from this particular source and this group comes from another source actually it's a composite of all of the various sources in the community such as our and commercial industrial activities our home or public activities of municipal activities. It's a composite of all these three major segments of the community in a large metropolitan area is any one of the potential sources of air pollution more important than any other. I would say generally in the larger metropolitan areas the major segment would come from fuel burning by a lot of the products of combustion resulting from the burning of our fuel. Now what are you doing about it.
Well we're doing what we considered as much as we are capable to doing commensurate with the funds in the stack that we're allotted tell us a little bit about the program. Well our air pollution control program in the city of Detroit is based upon a concept of preventing pollution from being generated and the new pollution being generated in a community and correcting or controlling the pollution that already exists. And to this is enabled by several various techniques which are incorporated in made provisions of in our ordinance for instance in our preventive control work we examine all plans and specifications. Something like 2000 plans a year pass through these offices and these plans are given the scrutiny of our plan examinations. Our exams will add comments to these plans or actually reject the plans if the plans was not up to our ordinance required. Has this plan revealed been instrumental in your opinion in
reducing the air pollution in the city of Detroit. There's no question in my mind that it has been instrumental if you're going to try to tie me down to a specific number I wouldn't frankly be able to give it. Because part of the plan review provision is only one part of our whole Prevent of the program. We have also the annual inspection of over 9000 business establishment a year that this bureau undertakes. In other words once we issue a permit and Quicken is installed in the city of Detroit These devices are inspected on about an annual basis to assure us that the devices are kept in the state of good repair and that there are no changes affected over the over the years which may change the nature of the type of pollution generated from these sources. So the annual inspection is another strong point for our preventive program. We have the testing of domestic incinerators and. The licensing of. Contractors to install these domestic in series as an integral part of our preventive program.
Our city is the first city to my knowledge in the nation that set up very stringent and exceedingly difficult standards regarding the operation of the mystic incinerators for use in the home. This highlights the fact I may add here that pollution is just not a from industry as such some people think that this is where the major source of pollution may come from but the public by a large and is home activities contributes a lot to pollution and the city of Detroit recognized this and implemented this particular very severe program and it was so severe that the products which were formally marketed in the city of Detroit no longer could be marketed in the whole industry the domestic incinerator industry had to change their concepts their designs in order to meet our standards. We feel that these new standards have made a product which is more acceptable to the public from the viewpoint of its less likelihood of creating a nuisance to the adjoining property owner. And now a time has elapsed where the manufacturers themselves are going around touting how wonderful their products are and forgetting about the old products that they used to have now the capitalizing
on this game that they've been able to affect. I might add at this point too although the strange laws were passed regarding these devices we didn't take a adamant or unconcerned attitude regarding the plight that we put this industry in. We gave them ample time and worked over a period of time for them to adapt and change these devices. In fact our ordinance or regulations governing the operation of these devices. Changed over to say every six months we incorporate a new feature which is a little more restrictive than the previous features and over a period of a year and a half we will able to affect awful restrictions and again manufacturers time to to let adapt to this problem. That's Morton Stirling chief of the Bureau of air pollution control for the city of Detroit. Mr. Stirling looks at air pollution control as a cooperative effort between the bureau he heads and the various sources of pollution in the city. An important part of the job is making use of the department's experience to eliminate potential pollution
sources overlooked by the planners. Can you give us a specific example of folks that perhaps might not pay as much attention or types of industry that might not pay as much attention might not realize that what they are doing would create an air pollution hazard. Well for instance if we had found recently a party that wished to install a new asphalt backed mixing plant in the city of Detroit we knew from experience that the this type of activity inherently could be a problem if very stringent requirements were imposed upon the types of devices that were employed on this activity. Now the this particular company hired. Responsible consultants to design this facility for them and any review of their plans. We found that by a large the detail provisions as far as the control of dust from the dryer was concerned was were very well taken
care of. Such things are cognizance of such things as the roadway was completely forgotten they had left the roadway to. To be Earth the original Earth. We know from experience that when the trucks travel in and out that this would raise dust that would be far greater than the amount that would be coming up a stack which they so efficiently control. So here was a point where we just suggested and wanted to pave this roadway this access road in and out of the plant and set up a regime for the regular sweeping of this roadway to prevent the carry over of this dust to the adjoining properties. We also suggested such things as the location of the storage piles as open storage of the raw aggregate materials that go into this process. We suggested by analysis of the the wind information that we had over a period of years. A more. Affective location which would prevent the carryover of this dust by excessive winds which come from time to time so that it wouldn't fall on adjoining property so we
actually suggested an orientation of the plant facilities with respect to the plot of land that they had. So these suggestions are we have to offer based upon our experience and knowledge which some other people may not know right off hand. By and large was destroyed how these suggestions taken by the industries to whom you make them they are accepted with enthusiasm I think. And you know that by and large most of the parties that we are confronted with who we have to review plans for it are eager to adopt any suggestions that we have to offer. Because number one is a are. Our suggestion is based strictly on experience and if we felt express a feeling that this is only going to incur a problem to them they certainly are not anxious to start. Activity which is inherently going to create a problem they're only going to have trouble later on so they might hedge it and stop and prevent it from beginning to the suggestions are requirements and do they add
significantly to the cost of these installation. I would say significantly no Sometimes the suggestions are so minor in terms of capital investment that they will far outweigh their benefits. Such things as suggestions on an extension of a stack or relocation of a event for instance they may have a vent for the intake of air into their building and they all have the discharge from a given operation is putting pollution into the atmosphere and they'll have research relation to their building something so simple as that actually were no cost probably involved in terms of the suggested changes just an awareness and an orientation on our part to think in terms of all the possibilities of creation of a problem to the adjoining property owners or problems of themselves and these suggestions are eagerly accepted. A major problem faced by many control officials is that of jurisdiction. Political subdivisions can interfere with the effectiveness of an area's attempt at pollution control.
Detroit is many other large metropolitan areas has a pretty free of other communities. Fact if I remember my geography correctly Detroit has at least two cities entirely within the limits of the of the city of Detroit. The ordinance under which you operate is a is a city ordinance limited to the city of Detroit. Is this good. This is very poor. Obviously I think you know what's the matter with it I mean why doesn't it work. Bye bye is not as effective as it might be. It seems to me that to administer ineffective air pollution control program the regulations or the legislation under which the administrative work should encompass a permit. The administration of a program on the area under which the problem originates or effects. Actually the but it may effect an area larger than where it originates and we get into a situation
where the control area would have to necessarily in many situations transcend the political boundaries that are involved. And quite frankly in the area surrounding the city of Detroit something like 40 percent of our total pollution originates from activities outside the environs of the city of Detroit itself. It seems to me that for the effort that we're expending internally here in the city that if we could only extend this effort to include some of these satellite communities where they do not have the resources of the staffs to cope with this problem that we could I think more effectively reduce the pollution levels exist in this area or region. Have you tried to work with these peripheral industries that are outside of the city of Detroit on a voluntary basis to convince them as to the things that that they're doing that seem to affect the city. Yes we do and we limit our activity on the satellite problem situations to those which cause direct nuisance to the residents of the
city of Detroit. In most cases where we have undertaken action in these types of situations we have been able to effect a cooperation from the parties that have been responsible for the pollution. By and large I think you can also appreciate that if a particular problem originates outside the city and it affects our community or residence in our community it would necessarily or generally involve a larger corporation or a larger activity in here. We are fortunate in having the large industries by and large. Recognizing their responsibility and willing to cooperate with us even though they know that they're not officially within our legal jurisdiction. Now we have run and searched several instances areas where we have been affected affected this cooperation and this is unfortunately the only mechanism that I know of here that we could utilize. And I have personally suggested this to our
administration and they are considering it right now and that is for us to go into a higher court and go into circuit court and ask for relief on a nuisance control basis to protect the rights and welfare of the citizens of Detroit. When I with this good working relationship on a voluntary basis with with many people a relationship that leaves a little to be desired with some. Is that is is this latter case important enough to try to do something about some of the the the legal responsibilities the jurisdiction is the jurisdiction large enough. I would say that it's important enough to. Examine the possibility of mechanisms which will permit permit the administration of pollution control on an area basis. And I say this because number one it obviates this problem of getting a necessarily depending upon the cooperation of the parties involved
creating the pollution and number two you expect to get it you will work toward it but you're not always sure it's going to have an alliance written down it's quite a clear cut. It's written in black and white to everyone to know that they're going that there are goals to be achieved by the polluters and as well as the persons that are trying to control it. But the second reason is that even though a community may have air pollution control regulations and and are enforcing them in a say a satellite community their regulations may not be as stringent. Well they may be more stringent which points up a problem of maybe in equitable. Competitive forces which going to play enemy in the area. It seemed to me from my overall viewpoint. Of the region it would be better to have a program which was somewhat uniform on this area basis and rather have these competitive forces at work which may put one industry in a competitive disadvantage that to another. MARTIN Sterling isn't the only one who has jurisdictional problems. Mr Fitzpatrick Chicago's
director of pollution control is hampered by a similar situation in his metropolitan area. Mr. Fitzpatrick Could you tell us a little bit about some of the problems that you encounter as a director of a city air pollution control program being surrounded as you are by an industrial county and not only one but several counties and in being not too far away either from the state line that has some very larger producers of pollution. On the other side of the state line the Chicago way. Partner is defined by the Chicago social of Commerce and Industry as an eight county area is approximately seven million people in the state county area six counties or no 9 2 in Indiana. We realize that for any long range program for the city of Chicago alone there will have to be compatible air pollution ordinances or laws. And all of these eight counties there are approximately thousand independent political jurisdictions within the state county so
we are suggesting that the Congressman Roberts to come to Chicago and conduct a public hearing here to determine what type of approach whether it be metropolitan air pollution control formally or whether the federal government developed guidelines to allow each local community to preserve their autonomy and implement a program that will allow Chicago to maintain the clean air it's now demanding of its own industry within the city. What about the problems that might originate on the other side of the state line. Do you have any of these that affect the city of Chicago. Well we definitely have problems in our sister state. But you do about days. Well again we hope that the federal government will pass this proposed legislation that will allow states to enter into complex. And if that is not successful possibly the federal government should do what they've done and one of pollution they was stablished a precedent there
and actually become a Enforcement Agency to correct these pollution problems problems across state lines. So so there's a cliche in this work that air pollution knows no political boundary and it's at its very true when you have what was it you said a thousand a municipality is in this eight county area independent political jurisdiction as I was an independent political jurisdictions and two states where you it it's quite a complex problem. This is certainly right. The community air pollution control officer has a great variety of sources with which to contend automobile exhaust domestic heating construction activities industrial sources incineration and so forth. Sometimes the sources aren't all from the outside. And the problem comes home to roost. One of the unfortunate parts is that the although the municipality pass regulations only 14 years ago one of the most flagrant violators was some of the city of Detroit operations and it became to the point where it was quite embarrassing
for some of our inspectors to actually make entry into some of these industrial facilities because I suggested joining them with some municipal activity was just about as bad a pollution pictures of what he was trying to control. This year I'm going to give you control over other city departments. The ordinance doesn't actually spell this out. I have been told by our legal counsel that we cannot take other municipal divisions into court let's say and I don't think it should be any need for this anyway it seemed to me that this has to come again as a basic philosophy in the in the administration and fortunately several years ago when the mayor through a direct directive which was in a sense initiated truly interests of this agency was able to. Suggest to all of the apartment heads and all the city government activities to make sure that their operations met our local air pollution control requirements and as a result of this
directive we have been able within the last two years been able to procure the necessary funds for the solution of some of our very many many pressing miscible problems such as the open burning of Dutch elm disease trees. We weren't allowing anyone to do any open burning in the city of Detroit except the city of Detroit. Finally we've been able to get a quarter of a million dollar brush Burnet unit put into activity this year. We hope to be able to put another one into service next year which will completely eliminate the need to burn this waste in the open. We've been able to put the first high efficiency collectors on our sewage treatment plant incinerators. We've been able to initiate a very effective high efficiency collectors on our asphalt batch mixing plants. Imagine we were able to affect control of the industrial commercial activities on as fallbacks mixing but we were polluting the air at will. But now we're finally controlling that. Detroit is one of several major ports on the Great Lakes it enjoys many benefits from this
geographic position as do other port cities. But with them shares some unique problems pollution wise is to Stirling as we sit here talking in your office in the city county building in Detroit and I look out over the Detroit River. I see the boats going back and forth. Some of these emitting a rather black plumes of smoke. Where does this fit into your control program. Well I'm glad to say that the amount of black smoke that you see coming out today is a lot less than it was 10 years ago. Actually this problem of smoke control as we found out only just several years ago fits in right within our jurisdiction as part and parcel of our general comprehensive air pollution control program. About 10 years ago we were advised to since this is the Detroit River was an international waterway. We were advised by the state attorney general's office in an opinion rented by them that we did not have legal jurisdiction over the ships traversing the Detroit River
and accordingly we requested through an international joint commission which is a federal agency assistance in trying to resolve this problem. And in one thousand fifty one The International Joint Commission did take on this problem of investigating the problem and trying to determine what if anything could be done to resolve it. Well years passed by as this international study went underway and. Somewhere around I think it was nine hundred fifty eight a nother attorney general and the stated mission was in being and another opinion came into effect and this statement that the we did the city of Detroit did in fact have legal jurisdiction over the excessive smoke emitted from ships plying the Detroit River and in order to determine whether this was so in fact we instituted a court case against one of the major fleets.
And this particular case was fought all the way on up through the United States Supreme Court and this court ruled that the city of Detroit did have control over the smoke emitted from ships plying the Detroit River only as it applies of course within the corporate limits of the city of Detroit which our ordinance governs now as a result of this momentous decision. We have now satisfied that the industry the marine industry that we mean business here and what we are looking and have looked for and thank God we've been able to affect is a program of abatement by the shipping industry. Our next one we'll continue to discuss air pollution control in the community. We hope you'll be with us now. Hold your breath was produced by Patrick Ford of Michigan State University under a grant from the
- Hold your breath
- 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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Interviewee: Fitzpatrick, James V.
Interviewee: Sterling, Morton
Interviewer: Heustis, Albert E.
Producer: Ford, Patrick
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 63-36-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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- Chicago: “Hold your breath; Air pollution control in the community, part one,” 1963-11-08, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 26, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-833n123q.
- MLA: “Hold your breath; Air pollution control in the community, part one.” 1963-11-08. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 26, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-833n123q>.
- APA: Hold your breath; Air pollution control in the community, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-833n123q