Fighting Smog in Los Angeles

And how California’s car emission standards continue to influence the rest of the country.

Fighting Smog in Los Angeles by Distillations: Science + Culture + History

If you live in Los Angeles, or even if you’ve just visited, you know about smog. But what might surprise you is that a half-century ago the city’s air quality was more unbearable, even though the city had far fewer cars.

In the final installment of our three-part series on environmental success stories, we tell you about Los Angeles’s caveat-filled triumph over smog. The battle started in the 1940s and continues today, but along the way crucial pieces of technology and legislation helped clear the air—and forced the whole country to follow.


Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago
Senior ProducerMariel Carr
ProducerRigoberto Hernandez
Audio Engineer: James Morrison 


Our theme music was composed by Zach Young. 
Additional music courtesy of the Audio Network

Research Notes

To research this episode we read Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles and interviewed its author, Chip Jacobs. We also interviewed Roger Turner, research fellow for the Beckman Legacy Project at the Science History Institute.