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The following tape recorded programs distributed through the facilities of the National Association of educational broadcasters. Just hold your breath. Hold your breath and long as you can soon discover how vital this natural resource is. Yes air is the most precious substance we have when it's plain it's healthy and useful. One of the 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 the 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. Perhaps the most important single factor in the success of air pollution control in the United States is the active concern of our citizens. It's everyone's air their health their money. In some of our major cities where pollution of the air is a most serious consideration the public apathy is notable. You know other metropolitan areas responsible concern has been exhibited down in the midst of its Benteke from your experience here in Chicago. Do you think that the average citizen in Chicago understands. Well first of all does he understand the air pollution problem that exists and secondly is he willing to exert himself to do something about it. We feel there's been a certain amount of indifference in Chicago. Chicago has gone through quite a change over the past 50 years when people came from Europe and other parts of the world to locate here. They realized that smoke and air
pollution was part of a industry that was giving them employment. But I think the social attitude is changing now and people are becoming more aware of the fact that industry in residential and commercial activities are compatible and good. With proper air pollution control equipment we do feel that there is an increasing public awareness in within this deprived and we have a public information and education division just to answer inquiries of the public especially concerned about the health effects. Along with the economic effects of air pollution and with the fine work done by the US Public Health Service since the end of World War 2 and the correlation of all the research that they brought about. The public is becoming more informed because there's more to tell them. How do you go about working with civic groups that are interested in one or more aspects of the air pollution situation. We consider and it's right in our ordinance that we must cooperate and stimulate public public awareness and
it's very very important in any air pollution control program to have community support because you can't go anywhere unless the public reaction is positive and with you. And we have a community representative Mr. Joseph Megan who context some 75 community groups intermittently. There are approximately that many in the city of Chicago and it is his it is His function not only to speak before them and with them but to. Give them upon request information in layman's language of the air pollution ordinance and what a local citizen can do to cooperate with us. The left burning information in the adjustment of their own home domestic equipment and in addition we like to consider them almost as citizens smoke comes over quite where they understand possibly something of the ordnance brigade relating to the ring on the chart. I think it can give us intelligent complaints the duration of the smoke or the pollutant and the wind direction at the time the exact time that they observed it. And this definitely
enhances our enforcement program. It sounds so easy doesn't it. And yet this kind of citizen participation can boost the success of local control programs and measurably. James Fitzpatrick is grateful for the kind of support he gets in Chicago New York City as Arthur Benn line commissioner of the department of air pollution control there points out has lacked an enthusiastic air conscious populace. We have never had a New York City the type of a white man citizen cooperation. That obtained in their lives Angeles area through the air pollution foundation. This was the most effective and forward thinking group. They wanted to business approximately 10 years ago it was their purpose to convince the state cities the municipalities the counties and others that their pollution was not something visionary that was a waste of time to be concerned about. There was a serious and increasing problem that was not going to get better unless somebody did something serious about it and like anything else you can't do the job unless you have money. We're not trying to spend money indiscriminately
any more than the police commissioner says that I have 25000 policemen now give me 5000 I reduce the crime. Give us more money we'll see as wisely and well spend the air pollution foundation and listed all of the people in those areas was Area industries the motion picture people the banks everyone that had an interest in the field and they were able to convince the state of California the county was and those of the other jurisdictions the most important job had to be done and then if they had achieved the purpose they intended eventually to go out of business. After being in business for 10 years then tensely went out of business at the end of 10 years. Dr Hitchcock here in New York was one of their first offices Dr. faith in California one of the others. They work cooperatively with the state local jurisdictions and I don't think any air pollution agency either in the country or in Washington would doubt. That the bill is and was approach has been the most effective one. United States and the let me give you an example our budget here in New York City is about a hundred thousand dollars. This is three times what it
was when Mayor way to became the mayor of the city of New York. He has the most sincere interest in the problem. Under the previous administrations for example Mugabe's time nothing was done about air pollution and yet the mayor has a problem to decide where this money is going to go how we can best allocate the funds. With the cooperation the budget director the board of estimate as to where this money goes. And I think the mayor will continue is give us a cooperation but. Let's look at the comparison that was and was budget is not a hundred thousand dollars as ours is but it's four times that it's three million two hundred thousand dollars. It was more the city the county of Los Angeles has been able to convince the state to take off their hands. Some of the functions would should have been state functions. There we have no intention to perpetuate ourselves forever. If the state will do all the things that it should do and knowing that they can exercise it all of the local police powers. And we do all the things that we can do we're going to make some attack on the problem of air pollution the lack
of public awareness is definitely an obstacle toward mounting an all out attack on the problem of air pollution. You have heard how certain isolated citizen groups have made significant contributions to their local control efforts. But by and large the average citizen across the nation has not been reached. Well Mr. Williams in your position is the public information officer for the air pollution activities of the United States Public Health Service. Could you share your our opinions with us as to how the problems related to air pollution and its control could be made more meaningful to the average citizen in the United States. Well I have a great deal of faith in this so-called average citizen. I believe that. All that can be done is for all that ought to be done is for the truth as it's understood by experts in the field to be repeated as many times as necessary or as possible through all the public information media that I don't think there is any concept in the field of
air pollution that is beyond the understanding of the ordinary citizen. I think it is a something of a fetish and an unfortunate want one among many scientific people that no one really can understand the difficulties and complexities of their studies I don't think this is true I think if we if we if we expect the American people to respond as they do as citizens and as voters to a problems as complex as we face in every way. Part of the government today that certainly they can understand the essential facts of air pollution. I think that we must keep the field wide open to the public that a technical papers which are presented by scientists for the perusal of their peers should also be made available to the public and that what we should strive to do is to. Make as many people as possible aware of the facts as the experts understand them.
Now the experts will often say they can't. Someone who is not an expert in my field cannot possibly understand what I mean. I disagree with his point of view I think the Although every every single aspect or nuance of thought in a technical paper may not be understandable to the public. Still the tone the essential essence the there are what it means whether the public should be concerned alarmed indifferent or what can be can be conveyed to the public through our media and it is I think being done the other end of public apathy of course as public alarm. It is not the end of public education and information about air pollution to create panic. Nevertheless there are those who distrust the public's ability to assimilate information about the effects of air pollution of Mr. WILLIAMS. Some industry spokesman have expressed concern about. The. Public being alarmed too much about the potential problem of air pollution. Would you care to comment on this.
Yes I think that while it is certainly true that on an island given occasions that given papers given studies may have produced headlines out of proportion to the importance of the studies that on the whole we have to walk keep faith. In the public and in the public's ability to understand. On the whole I think the public understands the air pollution in much the same terms I think as many of the experts do. It was interesting to note that following the national conference on air pollution held in 1058 a perusal by us at least of editorials written in newspapers throughout the country on the air pollution problem and the results of the conference and so on some of the editorials being written a year or two years after the conference on the whole the tone and the point of view of the editorials regardless of the leanings of the newspaper were pretty much in consonance with a point of view of the surgeon general of the
Public Health Service who was attempting to represent the whole country in the 158 conference. Do you have concern about the public being unduly alarmed if the facts are fairly presented to them. I have none if the facts are presented fairly and fairly to the public I think the public responds with admirable restraint. As a matter of fact the public has responded with such admirable restraint up until now that the air pollution control effort at the state and local level is deplorably low compared with the with the extent of the problem as viewed by me. It's generally felt that progressive communities handle their affairs relatively well. If indeed there is a low level of activity on matters of pollution might this not indicate a feeling that the threat of air pollution has been exaggerated and that locally anyway the problem is not severe enough to warrant action. Perhaps we can wait until later to adopt air quality standards. Mr. Williams can in your opinion a growing community that is truly
progressive. Neglect to do something about air pollution and its control. No of course not if it's a community. Once to say or believe that it is progressive It can't possibly do so why not. Well for one thing but one thing. We must keep in mind that even though we don't know all about what low levels of air pollution due to health there is good reason to suspect that air pollution in any. Appreciable quantity is not good for people. Therefore how can a progressive community accept a threat even if it isn't there isn't a completely proved one. That they're. Perhaps doing long range damage to their to the people. Secondly. If the community is progressive I assume it will grow and if it grows the time will come when it will have. To do something about controlling air pollution. And as I said
before to do this later costs much more money than it does to do it in the first place if a community says Come industry are located here and there requires at the same time that controls be established. I think it is much cheaper. Then then to establish a plant and then have to add on air pollution control methods and techniques and many years later would you have any comments Mr. Williams on what might be the ultimate answer in this matter of bringing about a successful control of air pollution on national level. Well I don't I don't think there is. There isn't a single ultimate answer prejudiced by my position I think the ultimate and ultimate need at least is is wide and deep and accurate public understanding of all the issues involved. I think as a as our That that there is no ultimate answer because we have no will no Ultimates insofar as our development is concerned we don't know which fuels are going to be used under what conditions in the
future. We don't know and we can't predict to what extent the the. Research now underway in the medical field will show that levels of air pollution that we now tolerate may not be tolerable. We don't know whether the weather the. Weather the. A small proportion of our land area now occupied by people will be so overburdened by the concentration of people in their activities in the next 20 30 or 40 years that much more drastic steps than are contemplated may be necessary but as it stands now here is my opinion that the that the accepted means of dealing with air pollution control for this period at least can work if we will let them work that the state and local governments are vigorously enforcing their control prerogative and the federal government vigorously pursuing its its job of research technical assistance and training.
That together we can deal with the problem much more adequately than we have in the past. Have the wide variation in local laws and wide variation in the strictness of enforcement of local laws and regulations. Have these interfered with the development of the national effort to improve the purity of the air. Well I don't know whether they have interfered they are a reflection however whether they are good or bad they are reflect a reflection of the success or lack of success of the national effort because a national effort we must keep in mind is not a centralised. Monolithic structure this international effort consists of a fairly loosely knit agreement among states and local governments. Industry the federal government and the public to take care of this problem before it takes
care of them. Mr. Williams How do you see the role of the private citizen in air pollution control. Well the private citizen has of course several roles to play in air pollution control and to varying degrees he does play them all. First as a as a controller of his own sources of air pollution the private citizen must and often and often does make certain that they're his own. Sources of pollution which he can personally control are kept under proper control. This has to do with the burning of trash and weeds and leaves under the proper conditions has to do with making certain that he has a furnace in his incinerator are a properly operating making certain that his car doesn't needlessly contribute to air pollution by being in bad repair. Then he has another role of course as a welder to make certain that in his community that he says
that he supports those groups are those candidates who are in favor of air pollution control. In addition he carries an important carries out an important responsibility as a member of argan is ations himself in many communities. The main impetus toward better air pollution control has come through the voluntary association voluntary associations of citizens. Rousing the rest of the public in the areas to understanding what the problem is about and how it can be dealt with I understand that in Pittsburgh in the. Earlier days of air pollution control the voluntary citizens association had a great deal to do with eventually bringing legislation on the books to control a good portion of the problem. This was true also in St. Louis in the early 1940s. And late 30s. In our society the citizen voluntarily in a non-governmental fashion so to speak going about take care of problems has that has been very
very much accepted point of view. I think there is some danger of giving the. Giving too much emphasis putting too much emphasis on this actually in the long run air pollution control is going to result from laws properly written and properly adhered to and insofar as a citizen can work voluntarily toward forgetting such legislation. Locally this is very well and good but it would be a delusion for him to think that simply by the by. By. Joining in association and and letting it stop there there at that day air pollution is going to be a magically controlled Mr. Williams as a. Public information officer for the United States Public Health Service. What do you consider your role to be. My role is very simple it's one that is much maligned and much misunderstood I believe but it's very simple. My role is to attempt to to make
as broadly make understandable to as many people as possible what is understood by the experts in the field of air pollution. I believe that although we can't convey to every member of the public everything that that our doctors engineers scientists chemists etc. understand that if I can help convey to the public the tone the general feeling the concern the the knowledge that that those who are well are very well acquainted with the field. Understand then that I have done my considered in the carrying out my role properly. Once we become interested in clearing the contaminants from our air how do we go about it. Who are the people on the grassroots who are actively interested in pollution control. We discovered one rather large group of 11 million women in this
country are now interested in an air pollution and we have a very definite and positive program that is in this direction. The dirt in the air soils their home furnishings and it discolors the house paint and it ruins the shrubs and the flowers and it of course disturbs the homemaker. And even more important I believe the growing body of circumstantial evidence is linking this air pollution with many cardio respiratory diseases such as and as my chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. And of course i women are alarmed. We're becoming a city people and they say that by 1970 It's estimated that two thirds of Americans will live on less than 10 percent of the land. This means that people will desert density will add to the pollution emission density and that the burning of fuels for heating and transportation and the burning of rubbish is going to pollute
the area in almost everyone's life. Gas does not produce smoke but it does produce pollutants do and this is a concern in motor vehicles. I'd say that we're not beginning to do nearly enough. What we should be doing in this direction. As the experience that you have had with your members. Mrs Arnold confirmed the viewpoint that they actually right now understand the air pollution problem and either what they are doing to contribute to it or what they can do to overcome it. Well you know I would say that my experience has confirmed that when a problem is clearly interpreted there are always people who will interest didn't involve themselves in it. But air pollution is a concern of the average person I honestly feel. Our health our homes our communities are vitally affected and the key to community action on the air pollution situation is certainly
interpretation of the problem. Unfortunately almost much of the available research is presented in highly technical terms. And we hope that perhaps this will be changed. Organizations such as ours the General Federation women's clubs are trying to track channel is information and material to their members. Can you tell us a little bit about how that how you are trying to get this information across to your members through your various activities here where we're using our club Woman magazine. We actually have prepared a program on air pollution for the use of the local club. We are certainly using it in the program of the General Federation as a whole our clothes state magazines have articles. We're asking many speakers to come to our clubs. We're using all kinds of devices to bring this to the attention of our club women then to the General
Federation. Indeed has already concerned itself with it with the problem of trying to do some things to acquaint its membership with the nature of it and stimulate them to take whatever action might be appropriate. We are trying to bring this to the attention of our group. We are saying that it is here it's with us what are we going to do about it. The job that lies ahead for us concerns information and education. You might be interested to know that we had violence done members seeking this information action. That first of all they be better informed. And that they always invite an expert to address their meetings. But they ask fissionables to tell them of the effect of their pollution on human life in the plant and animal life structure at least once a year to one of their meetings. And then I thought discover that some of our club members have conducted a survey among themselves to determine the extent of the problem in their
locality. And then they get in touch with the mayor and other top municipal officials to tell them of the survey results and to discuss the view and their views. And you know how women. Can easily contact the news media. And if they should tell the news media of surveys then they follow with a plan for action. Women maintain vigilance over these problems and sometimes advise on legislation. They try to work closely with state agencies who are concerned with this air pollution problem and certainly they do contact their state legislators. In other words I'd like to say that our plant club women are inform citizens and because they are informed citizens they can do and they will do something about these problems. Air pollution that was Mrs. Dexter Otis Arnold president of the Federation
of Women's Clubs. It's a case for public awareness and action has not been sufficiently made. Let's conclude today's program with some pertinent thoughts by Mr. Arthur C. Stern assistant chief of the division of air pollution in the public health service from opposition Mr. Stern as assistant chief of the division of air pollution of the United States Public Health Service. Would you say that we have reached a critical period in the United States in this matter of air pollution. I don't believe that we can categorize any one particular year such as 1962 or 1963 as being a critical year. I believe however that we're certainly in a critical decade that if we. Don't take effective action during this decade we may find that we've come into. A situation where the
adverse effects of air pollution may grow faster than our ability to control them. Mr. STERN It's been said that to neglect the implementation of an effective air pollution control program on a national basis is to invite disaster. Can you explain this. We have a general thesis that because the population of the nation is increasing. And the urbanization of the nation is increasing so that a larger population is continuing to live in a smaller and smaller. Portion of our land area. And thirdly because each person. Is. Utilizing. More energy per person per year every year. And fourthly that energy usage is.
Synonymous with the discharge of the waste products of energy usage and. Industrial operations to the atmosphere that all of this adds up to more and more. Adverse effluence being discharged into a smaller and smaller portion of our total air resource over the nation and that sense the ability of this Aries orse to have absorbed and disseminate and diffuse pollution is not increasing. Over this period of time it has always been essentially the same. That we cannot continue to put more pollution into the same air without having air pollution gradually increase to alarming levels. Then
Hold your breath
The private citizen in the fight for clean 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 impact that private citizens can have when they battle air pollution.
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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: Benlein, Arthur
Interviewee: Fitzpatrick, James V.
Interviewee: Stern, Arthur C.
Interviewee: Arnold, Margaret
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: 63-36-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:24
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Chicago: “Hold your breath; The private citizen in the fight for clean air,” 1963-12-02, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 23, 2021,
MLA: “Hold your breath; The private citizen in the fight for clean air.” 1963-12-02. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 23, 2021. <>.
APA: Hold your breath; The private citizen in the fight for clean air. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from