A Caltech Library Service

Smog: a report to the people

Lees, Lester and Braly, Mark and Easterling, Mahlon and Fisher, Robert and Heitner, Kenneth and Henry, James and Horne, Patricia J. and Klein, Burton and Krier, James and Montgomery, W. David and Pauker, Guy and Rubenstein, Gary and Trijonis, John (1972) Smog: a report to the people. Environmental Quality Laboratory Report, 4. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

PDF - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


The Environmental Quality Laboratory (EQL) traces its origins to a series of discussions initiated by Caltech President Harold Brown on the feasibility of a Caltech Air Pollution Laboratory aimed at alleviating the smog problem in the South Coast Air Basin. In an address to the Institute for the Advancement of Engineering on February 28, 1970, [1] Dr. Brown summarized the main conclusions of a faculty-JPL study group on smog led by Professor Carver Mead that preceded the formation of the EQL. To quote from Dr. Brown's address, the most important conclusion "is that there are other factors which are as important or more important than the technological ones.... Unless expert social scientists are available -- and I mean not only economists to examine the economic balance, but political scientists, sociologists, psychologists, and so on -- the study will be done in too narrow a context. Although it will give the right answers to its own questions, it will prove to have overlooked questions more important than those which it asked." Our experience in working on the smog problem over the past year fully confirms Dr. Brown's observations. The EQL team engaged in this study included social scientists, lawyers, engineers, and graduate and undergraduate students. Each of us had to learn that the social, cultural, legal, economic and technical factors interact strongly and therefore cannot be treated separately. In addition to innumerable internal debates, seminars and memos, we had the benefit of numerous discussions with people in industry, in environmental action groups, and in government at all levels who are concerned with air pollution. At the outset of the EQL study we made the decision to consider only those air pollution control strategies that comply with the spirit (if not the letter) of the Clean Air Act of 1970. In the spirit of that act this report describes a "management standards" approach for achieving drastic reductions in the number of "smoggy" days in the South Coast Air Basin of California by the end of 1977. In order to illustrate the kinds of control measures that are required if the management air quality standards are to be satisfied, we chose one particular control strategy for detailed study. This strategy, called EQL Strategy # 1, is based on new "technical" control measures on stationary sources and used motor vehicles, combined with a set of social and economic incentives and disincentives designed to encourage the shift to low-pollution motor vehicles, to encourage the use of multiple-occupancy vehicles (buses, carpools, etc.), and to halt or at least reduce the annual rate of increase in gasoline consumption in the Basin. [2] If EQL Strategy # 1 is followed, we estimated that the average number of days per year on which the California ambient air quality standard on photochemical oxidants is violated would be reduced from 241 days in 1970 to 50 days by the end of 1975, and to 25 days by the end of 1977. The measures we propose are neither painless not inexpensive. We did not find any "magic solutions." For example, the cost of EQL Strategy # 1 for this Basin is estimated at about one billion dollars through the end of 1975, or about $100 per head. Whether or not the results that could be achieved are worth the effort and expense is up to the people of the South Coast Air Basin to decide. An earlier version of this report called EQL Report # 4, dated January 15, 1972, consisted of Part I, which contained a summary of EQL Strategy 1, and Part II, which briefly outlined the legislative and administrative actions required. The present final edition of the EQL air pollution report contains a revised and updated version of Part I and a new Part II, entitled "Supporting Information and Analysis." Our work on the short-term (1972-1977) air pollution control problem raised important and difficult questions about the long-range (1982-2000) problem of controlling air pollution in the South Coast Air Basin. Members of the EQL staff are studying new technologies, social and economic incentives, modes of transportation and patterns of land use and development in an attempt to formulate a long-range strategy. Lester Lees Director, Environmental Quality Laboratory Pasadena, California June 15, 1972 [1] Brown, H.: "The University and Environmental Research," Bulletin of the California Institute of Technology, Vol. 79, No. 1, March 7, 1970. [2] Some of these technical control measures are also included in the Implementation Plan submitted by the State to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in February, 1972.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Technical Report)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemEarlier Version
Additional Information:© 1972 by California Institute of Technology. Supported in part by the National Science Foundation, Research Applied to National Needs (RANN), under Grant No. GI-29726.
Group:Environmental Quality Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Series Name:Environmental Quality Laboratory Report
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechEQL:EQL-R-4
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:You are granted permission for individual, educational, research and non-commercial reproduction, distribution, display and performance of this work in any format.
ID Code:25739
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:18 Sep 2007
Last Modified:21 Jan 2022 17:04

Repository Staff Only: item control page