Clean Air -- California's Success and Future Challenges

This page last reviewed September 19, 2008.

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Speaking Notes Slide 6

Historical Slide: Dr. Haagen-Smit

Speaking Notes: Arie Haagen-Smit


Professor of Biochemistry - California Institute of Technology


Discovery of mechanism which creates the eye irritant pollutant ozone.


First Air Resources Board Chairman


Haagen-Smit Laboratory - World Renown Motor Vehicle Testin Lab

In 1952, Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit discovered the nature and causes of photochemical smog. He determined a major component of "smog" is ozone created by the interaction of nitrogen oxides (combustion sources, cars, heaters, etc.) and hydrocarbons (evaporation from gasoline, solvents, and drying of products such as paints and consumer products). These two pollutants in the presence of sunlight (ultraviolet radiation) produce ground-level ozone (upper atmospheric ozone protects us from skin cancer). This breakthrough understanding is the foundation upon which today’s public health protective standards are based.

Cost Effects of Pollution:  Optional Group Discussion recommended for technical and general audiences:  Explain the following terms, review references for specifics -- add or delete as desired:

Health Cost / Effects: Air Pollution Affects Children, Elderly and All, Including Adults, Who Exercise ...

Asthma, Bronchitis, Permanent Lung Damage: 10 Percent Lung Loss in Los Angeles - Children by Age 18 (Morbidity Autopsies); Headaches, Nausea, Anemia, Brain Damage, Reduced Immunity, Cancer, Reproduction Problems, Birth Defects, Premature Death. Increased Private and Public Medical Costs (Indirect Cost). Meeting the federal ambient air quality standard in SCAQMD by 2010 would be worth $904 million in quantifiable health benefits (savings). Because ozone reaction is dependent on sunlight ozone levels increase during the day. (Better to do exercise in am vs pm ...)

Crop damage documented as early as 1948. Now, $700 million loss each year.

Increased Maintenance - Ozone Oxidant breaks down rubber and paints increasing maintenance costs.

Define Terms:  Optional Group Discussion recommended for general audiences.

Ambient Air Quality Standard - maximum acceptable average concentrations of an air pollutant during a specified period of time measured in parts per million (ppm).

Ozone Federal:  Prior to 1997 - .12 ppm/ 1 hr (1997: .08ppm/8hr std.) California: .09 ppm/1hr

Bad Air Day Alerts

Smog Alerts

Health Advisory

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

[ 1 Hour ]

[ > .15 ppm ]

[ > .20 ppm ]

[ > .40 ppm ]

[ > .50 ppm ]