Hold your breath; The economic cost of pollution
The following tape recorded program is distributed through the facilities of the National Association of educational broadcasters. Just hold your breath. Hold your breath as long as you can and you'll 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 the United States Public Health Service. Every aspect of this national problem from health effects to economic considerations will be discussed. Air pollution will be viewed by legislators scientists and public health officials representatives of industry.
That's why we challenge you to draw some logical and responsible conclusions. The total cost of air pollution to the community may be divided into the cost of losses suffered as a result of pollution and the cost of controlling air pollution. A number of types of air pollution damage have been described and from time to time estimates have been made of the economic losses due to these damages. However they subtlety of air pollution damage makes estimates difficult to make with certainty the costs of control can be divided into several groups such as expenditures by government industry and the individual. And estimates for these have been made if damage and control cost estimates could be made with sufficient accuracy. They could be highly useful in assessing the value of air pollution control measures as well as the need for additional measures. Decisions on air pollution control are essentially judgments which require that all known facts be considered in terms of their total impact on the
community. The preceding passage was a direct quote from a report made at the National Conference on air pollution in Washington DC in December of 1962. The report was made by Dr. John T Middleton director of the air pollution research center at the University of California Riverside. The economic implications of air pollution are great indeed. In each of the remaining programs this will become apparent. Air pollution cannot be discussed apart from its economic of facts just as it cannot be discussed apart from its health effects. Aside from many difficult to measure manifestations of economic nuisance air pollution has displayed tangible evidence of loss in the area of agriculture and natural resources. These are easily demonstrated by Dr. Spencer M. Smith executive secretary of the Citizens Committee on Natural Resources is one of a number of people greatly concerned about air pollution. Doctor he was does ask him about his organization and their particular interests practiced with. Could you tell us just a little bit about the Citizens Committee on Natural Resources.
Well this is this Committee on Natural Resources was incorporated in December 1954. Oddly enough it came about as a consequence of a spring Court decision. When the Supreme Court ruled that any organization that sought to influence Congress had to register under the lobbying act irrespective of how lofty their motives. The Citizens Committee was organized since this ruling precluded the conservation groups from petitioning the Congress from time to time. And as a result we were formed a new and people join our organization as individuals though we say quite candidly we have on our board of directors practically. Always either the executive office or the president or a major board director of every national conservation organization in that state. Maybe one or two exceptions to that but I think essentially that's it. In other words you represent conservation interests see it before the Congress. Yes yes capital Yes S.R. principal tax and primarily though not
exclusively so on national legislation. But Dr. Smith can you tell us a little bit about the interest of the Citizens Committee on Natural Resources as it effects air pollution. Yes we have been interested as far as recreational areas wildlife areas and in terms of the general health of the community our resources in the United States were taken for granted for such a long period of time that. We are no reaping the harvest unfortunately of this neglect air pollutions impact on city areas. The changes upon the structure the community the as I've spoken before the impact on recreational areas also air pollution and stream and water pollution often go hand in hand. And are. Doubly community. Rather than where one exists without the other has air pollution interests
some of the natural recreation areas to their detriment. Well yes we know that in many parks. The Park and wilderness areas for an example are quite a fragile thing. Many parks simply been made not usable to the purposes for which they were intended because of automobile traffic and because of the high pollutant elements that go into the air as a result of automobile traffic. Also the location of the factory near a park or a recreational area here or been affected of course becomes a place that people aren't interested in going and when you realize it's recreation is going to be one of the most significant factors for American citizens in the future. This is a very very serious thing as far as we're concerned. In addition to mention some time ago that just the
locating of a highway some seven miles. From a dock area duck nesting and feeding area. Has apparently changed the pattern habits of these ducks. One of the principle reasons that wildlife biologists tell us is perhaps a very significant air pollution either say well it's impossible for this to be effective. That's the only change we can think of in the area. And these people have sifted this problem rather carefully and I think probably it's a factor if not the only factor. What about what happened in Longhorn and concerning it. Well this was a good example there was a location of a sewage treatment plant opposite not burnt in the first instance was to put it on the. Tip of land that jutted out in the tummy ache a little bit obliquely but right off the veranda. Well this was looked upon by those interested in preserving our historical monuments spatially here a voice intan. Then conservation has to like it. Present time the opposite
shore of Mt. Vernon more by happenstance and planning is pretty much as George Washington knew it. The difficulty there was when they look into a sewage treatment plant not only would it be unsightly but the fumes would be obnoxious. Now we were told that. This would not be too much of a problem. And yet under cross-examination by the Congress no engineer could indicate that there wouldn't be a series. So they did move it back many of us think it's not back far enough yet. But this is the intrusion and can take place on what many of us feel is a very significant national money. Has there been any other specific instances that have come to your mind where. The air pollution has had a factor in the recreational areas. Well mostly in regard to Parkes we have received letters to a very great extent and state parks now state park sometimes have to yield to the onward rushing civilization and allow trucks truck
traffic bus traffic through it portion of their state parks while the federal government through national parks or some strong effort to keep these out. But where this happens in state parks the total public use drops very significantly. I can't recall offhand the number of them but I have. I think in the last six months found seven or eight states where this is the case and almost every instance when you can look through the statistical tables as a public use of parks you'll find when you get a drop in one of them there's data one or two things usually do the increased heavy traffic through an area. Or the location of an industrial site. Generally the location of the industrial site is not so significant. Even if it takes away the scenic beauty. But when it begins to belts for its very own his substance then you find the whole attitude about regarding the public dropping off as their interest
immediately begins to diminish. And of course what happens is other recreational areas then are further burdened as a result of these people's interests or of the recreational areas art. Used to substantiate people who want to actually find this kind of release. As I indicated before this is getting to be a very important consideration in the United States. You perhaps know the president just recently formulated in the Department of Interior a new bureau bureau about the recreation. President Eisenhower created a commission some time ago. The Outdoor Recreation Commission. To study. Outdoor recreation resources this took place for about two and a half years at the conclusion of their report by the way Lawrence Rockefeller was the chairman of this very distinguished conservationist in his own right at the conclusion of the report to bills introduced in Congress and present by executive order set up the spear of recreation. One of the
things that are commented on there is a concern about air pollution relative to recreational resource. Is this drop off in use of the parks it he'll mentioned it is just due to the products of combustion that are given off by all of the ills and industry at heart right to every other recent season. Well I would say it's both. For example if you have areas and picnic areas besides streams and not exactly roadside areas a little further back. The noise and the mere presence of automobiles of course has a dampening effect. But even when you get off always the smell especially of the heavy exhaust of Diesel's. This has a tendency to diminish to a very great extent. There was another comment about whether we should open up. The. Road to Mt. Vernon to heavier truck traffic. This would be a cut off to Highway 1 here in Washington. Well if we allowed
the truck traffic to go right through and practically up to the gates of Mt. Vernon all the way along this beautiful Parkway which overlooks the Tomic and practically all of us distant. I'm sure that the people who generally picnic on the side of this parkway. Would do a very great extent to find it less desirable find other place. As I say there are many factors here and I'm not saying that air pollution is the only one. I'm saying it is a necessary consequence and it is one factor among us. Spencer Smith is deeply concerned about damage to our parks and state and national attractions brought about by the pollution of the air. His organization they Citizens Committee on Natural Resources is doing what it can to safeguard these places from the effects of industrial and automotive contamination. But Spencer Smith is an economist too and is aware of the implications in this area. As our society grows and becomes more complex the need for those recreational areas and natural
resources which enrich our lives becomes more significant. At the same time this complexity and genders the further pollution of the air which in turn decimates the natural resources and recreational areas. This is further demonstrated when we think of the air as the prime natural resource whose pollution actually threatens the economic stability of a community. I dismissed if I remember correctly our major field is economics. Yes that's correct. Where it is that air pollution and its effects fit into the economic balance of a community. Well. You can just about run the gamut on this one for example. It will change the economic location. Of many businesses in the community. It will change your neighborhood structure a community. For example if I say an industry comes in it is polluting the air significantly. You'll find people do not want to send their children to schools in that area. You'll find people moving out of it to get away from the circumstances
cause you only find that. But you'll find the land values of course. Taking a nosedive in these particular areas other land values being hands the factor of air pollution can just about run the game. You can have the same kind of attacks upon a community as. Well somewhat sinister economic force that might be unleased into it. Causing it to disrupt its social structure because I think we build our social structures to a very great extent on the basis of our family our home and our neighborhood structure. This obviously is disruptive. Well I think the best example of this is Pittsburgh. Her books and treatises have been written sociologically on the effect of the cleanup in Pittsburgh and then anything else areas for example that had been considered highly undesirable. I couldn't get school teachers in the schools
neighborhoods were poor and they couldn't support certain sections of transportation was banned and where much of the cleanup that took place here is a go. These areas become much more habitable much more interested. And as a result some very light industries service industries moved into these areas. Formerly there was a reason for them to be there because it attracted people who had to live in these price dwellings. Poor neighborhoods. I think it has a way. Of tearing your community to shreds if it is significant. And we know in areas where some kinds of air pollution. Are so significant that people just don't live there. Now. Of course you have all kinds of degrees of air pollution as you and I are aware and I'm not suggesting that every time a pollution problem is going to have that kind of an economic effect. But there are all sorts of degrees of air pollution and the subsequent
economic reaction to them is also integrated. But whenever you have some of the modern industrial sites being exploited I was at a dinner meeting the other night when I was a small firm trying to suggest certain areas for their business and they want to be located here in a Washington area. In order that they could attract people that wouldn't have to drive 15 25 miles every day. When I finally picked out an area and the reason they have banned it was because there are two or three other industrial areas close by. And our location was good but air pollution was a problem. People would want to live in. So this was having a real economic impact on the location of this industry. In this instance of them to be the crucial fact this was in 1960 till this is 1962 right here in Washington Eric. And
this I think people don't usually take in consideration and think of air pollution as a nuisance. As something that probably isn't too good for you. But I have the feeling that they put this something in the category is neither is eating too much or too many sweets. Or drive the wind down your car in winter or smoke too many cigarettes I think it can and you know air pollution is kind of a nuisance. That it's something that they're not too happy with. But it isn't going to get them so stirred up that they want to move. It's about a nuisance. Well perhaps but I think you will agree that Dr Smith has presented some rather impressive evidence of very tangible economic damage by air pollution. They contamination of the products of Agriculture is another area of importance and studying the economic effects of polluted air. Not only does this concern a whopping annual economic loss but it poses a health threat from ingested tainted agricultural products. This serious new air pollution threat to
crops has developed in the last two decades of pollutants and photochemical air pollution are no longer restricted to California but are found in 27 states the District of Columbia Mexico and Canada. According to the University of California John Middleton the agricultural losses resulting from the adverse effects of all of they presently recognized pollutants have been estimated to amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year. To help us study the picture we called on Mr. J.B. Thane a member of the legislative staff of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington DC. He gave us this background. Well I suppose historically people who want to get away from the fog and the smoke and in later years when they become combined and become smog They've stopped and moved to the. Rural areas to get a little bit of clean air. Unfortunately we've now had our
industries move out into some of the rural areas and wherever there's an agricultural area in close proximity to these industrial plants we've had serious damage occur to the vegetation and to the livestock. Can you be a little bit more specific Mr. Clean about some of this damage to crops and so forth. Well it's it isn't a new problem really. This dates back over a century time when we first developed our industrial centers in the United States. It was often thought of course that you in order to have a thriving industrial city that you had to have a dirty city. And some of the areas. In close proximity to these industrial cities were damaged severely by the smoke there particularly from a smaller ring and ceramic industries. And so we had test cases in court for years and years and damages have been paid.
This goes back to some of the more common ones which have been out I say for more than a century and have been recognised. And of course maybe everyone doesn't know but they at least passed and I smoke. Legislation banks in England and around the 13th century. So this isn't entirely a new problem. Now to get a little more specifically we've had tremendous losses in some of the areas in California and in Florida and along the eastern seaboard where some of the big industries are located. It's just a mater that I believe it was in Southern California something like eight to 10 million dollars annually or lost in agricultural production because of the poisonous elements which are transmitted from these industries and absorbed by the vegetables. Now one of the most serious effects comes from. Fluorine which is emitted from
certain industries that smell during the phosphate industries and this fluorine game cause flourishes in animals and the state up in Washington where they were producing around 2000 head of livestock I believe it was after they developed some of their plants in this area. They read production of animals which cut to over less than 100. Now there was serious damage caused to some of these. The milk production and ferocious in animals is a recognized problem. We don't exactly know what the tolerance of animals is. Some animals have a higher tolerance in others we don't exactly know what the tolerance of human beings is really in relation to chlorine. And usually this is comes about by the deposition of chlorine on vegetation and eaten by the animal. And I thought if they protect the the ferocious condition.
But you feel that air pollution is a serious enough threat to warrant some research in this area. We definitely think so yes. We'd like to see more research done along this line. Now let me ask you to repeat one of the figures you gave me earlier you're talking about the. The cattle production is alway in the state of Washington there was one location which had previously supported 2000 milk cows prior to the development of an aluminum plant and some pulp mills. The number of cows have been reduced to less than 100. Aside from the health effects on animals which in turn becomes an economic problem. Pollutants in the air can destroy crops. Annual crop loss from this cause is a significant factor in agricultural production. Julie enumerated some of the ways in which air pollutants destroy crops and some of the effects that they have. Well. In Southern California in certain areas of Florida. And some in Utah
and Idaho and New Jersey there have been numerous vegetables which have been damaged by certain. Toxic elements which have come from the air and some of these crops which have been damaged more than others are spinach beets grapefruit tomatoes beans and grapes oranges and lettuce and particularly in the area where they produce flowers. See they've had a tremendous loss and I was very. Sulfur dioxide of course is one of the oldest known air pollutants and it does cause discoloration in the plants it causes a lack of the plant to lack for growth material. It stumps the plant and it sometimes reduces the production of the fruit and causes premature dropping of
the fruit. So there is a definite relationship between some of these toxic poisons which are settled on the plants. This sort of thing's still going on today miss you think. Oh yes yes this is still happening in certain areas to a greater or lesser degree. I think last year they had serious damage in Florida. We've had reports from our own State Farm Bureau organizations there and Florida is having trouble with phosphate plants. I don't know if still having some difficulty with their fluoride from their phosphate developing up there also. And of course I've already mentioned that California has a big problem. That's the thing we talk about agricultural damage because of air pollution you're speaking I take it mostly about the Middle West in the West. No my course primarily I suppose that's where the emphasis is that the nation looks to Southern California
because of the smog and in certain of these areas I referred to and Idaho and Utah and Washington. But it's not related there entirely in fact some of our greatest losses have been along the Atlantic seaboard and it's estimated now that we lose in a lonely Atlantic seaboard something like 18 million dollars in crop losses annually because of this air pollution. So I think we know it's right close to home as far as we are here and we need to do something to correct the problem here in the east it's not localized in an area it's quite general. The question is with the knowledge of these adverse effects from pollution why don't we do something about it. Spencer Smith has some ideas what I would like to emphasize one thing. So often in this country we take for granted some of our greatest blessings. We've done this in the form of money where we paid very little attention to the terrain or the areas. We
just went in where the dollar lent some history book authors have said and this was our ride was no particular reason not to. We had a huge country we had very few people in it. We did the same with timber. The old technique that cut out get out. The timber we've seen what's happened all we have to do is take a little journey to the northwest of various parts of Michigan certainly northern Minnesota areas like that to see what happened to that land. We have seen that we could not abuse our lane indefinitely. We got dust bowls and we had all sorts of rivers clog and we had to spend millions of dollars to build AM's which. We wouldn't have had we had the topsoil placed in it. Now we come there. We lease going to public consciousness about these other problems. Does it come back to haunt us. Well if you talk to somebody high up middle of
the desert somewhere pollution is probably not going to get very excited about I asked to do just gain a hundred a degree. He's very definitely sure that it's nothing but serious going on within his line of eight. But if you're talking to one of our modern cliff daughters in New York City air pollution is a significant problem signal problem. If you're talking about people who are getting recreational. You find that they're now considering things you never considered before only close by factory. Is there going to be bus and heavy truck traffic this air in short we finally had to arrive at the conclusion that while air is free clean air isn't. Let it clean air is a scarce commodity and we have to begin taking a serious look at it from the public Banty's point. I think that we get very
upset when we have to take any public action that might interfere in any face with our commercial enterprise. I think we're going to have to grow up in this country and realize that there are certain things that have to be done certain minimum things and to the extent that it interferes it just plain interferes. But to go ahead and take care of it and surprising how we can adjust after we make these decisions to take care of what we've done in water pollution we've done it in other areas too. But this I think is significant to realize that clean air is a scarce commodity and to be willing to do something to keep air clean and make the necessary sacrifices that this will. Necessitate going on the next program we'll continue to examine the price of pollution. Hold your breath was produced by Patrick Ford at Michigan State University under a grant from the division of air pollution Bureau of state services U.S. Public Health Service.
- Hold your breath
- The economic cost of pollution
- Producing Organization
- Michigan State University
- WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Episode Description
- This program focuses on the financial costs of air pollution.
- Series Description
- This series focuses on air pollution and its impact on America.
- Broadcast Date
- Media type
Interviewee: Smith, Spencer M.
Interviewee: Thane, J.B.
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: 63-36-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “Hold your breath; The economic cost of pollution.” 1963-10-02. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 21, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-z02z7k5z>.
- APA: Hold your breath; The economic cost of pollution. 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-z02z7k5z