“Black Wednesday” Demonstrates Dangers of Smog (Great Events from History II: Ecology and the Environment Series)
Article abstract: “Black Wednesday,” a photochemical pollution episode in Los Angeles, was thought to be caused by butadiene.
Summary of Event
On Wednesday, September 8, 1943, Los Angeles, California, experienced a new type of air pollution that caused plant damage, eye irritation, cracking of stretched rubber, and a decrease in visibility. It was not the first occurrence of pollution over the Los Angeles basin; Spanish mariners were the first to look out over the basin and see what would later be known as smog. The name the sailors gave to the area was “Bay of Smokes.”
By the early 1940’s, resident’s complaints of burning eyes and irritated throats were increasing. A streetcar strike in July, 1943, necessitated the use of more automobiles on the streets and highways. As a result, a heavy layer of smog developed. The streetcar strike ended on July 23, but the smog remained and increased in concentration. On Monday, July 26, pollution reached its maximum concentration, and the episode was called a “gas attack,” a term that had ominous overtones in connection with World War II.
On September 8, 1943, a dense cloud of pollution hovered over Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Times dubbed the day “Black Wednesday.” People realized that something was wrong and that action must be taken. The supposed source of the pollution was quickly identified as a synthetic rubber factory...
(The entire section is 2249 words.)
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