When L.A.’s smog fumes ran like Seattle rainwater, and the chaos and science that erupted from it,


is the focus, of course, of our book, our raison d’etre for running this blog in a cavalcade of environmental blogs. Sometimes, a run of the mill news story from today echoes the slapdash, episodic, and generally hunch-filled quest to keep early Los Angeles air pollution out of sensitive edifices, hosptials in particular. It proved harder to stop than grabbing a fistfull of smoke, the dirty particles penetrating medicial facilities, courtrooms, schools, homes, office buildings, bunkers, airplanes and other places where humans probably reckoned they were safe.

Recently the L.A. Times published a news feature about fumes from medical helicopters infiltrating hospitals, and it quite literally a blast from the past. When you read our book, Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles, you’ll see just what we mean. A bad smog assault spurred a clattering of heels and an outbreaking of sweat inside just about any health facility you can imagine. People operating sanitariums that treated emphysemacs and people with tuberculosis didn’t sleep much with a toxic forecast in the papers. They knew they’d be spending hours sealing windows and door frames and whatnot, and even then there was no assurances the brown crud wouldn’t get in.

Take a gander at this story and you’ll get a scintilla feel for Smogtown of the late 1940s and 1950s.

“… Significant problems with helicopter exhaust seeping into hospitals have been well-documented in recent years — with pilots groups warning those building new facilities not to locate vents too close to helipads — raising questions about why the issue has occurred at the county’s newest facility.

County-USC’s ventilation system problems were apparent soon after the hospital opened in November, said Pete Delgado, the hospital’s chief executive.

Fumes from helicopters landing on the roof with critically ill patients triggered fire alarms and caused fire protective doors to automatically close in the hospital, he said …”

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