This is Sara Harris, host of Hear in the City. We’re on a break this week while our local station KPFK holds its winter fund-drive. So we’re gearing up for a new series about air pollution and environmental justice that Newsdesk.org is sponsoring for their Toxic Tour: Los Angeles project.
I’ve been reading up on local history and air quality maps for our upcoming Air Check series on air pollution in Los Angeles. Right now, I’m knee deep in Smogtown: The Lung-burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles by Chip Jacobs and William Kelley. It’s written like the pair wishes they were really James Elroy, but it’s chock-full of archival research and unbelievable anecdotes about just how toxic the miasma called air was in Los Angeles before the oil companies and defense manufacturers were ever subject to regulation. And yes, back in the post WWII L.A., they actually used a contraption called a “smogometer” to analyze the air. That was then. Now, there are several companies that manufacture air quality monitors, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District has an iPhone App that allows you to receive local air quality updates.