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Message to the United States Technical Conference on Air Pollution

May 3, 1950

I HAVE asked that you come together today for a singularly important purpose. There is an urgent need to bring to bear on the problem of air pollution all the scientific knowledge at the command of industry, government, and scientific institutions.
With the increasing industrialization of the United States, contamination of the air around us has become a serious problem, affecting all segments of our population. Air contaminants exact a heavy toil. They destroy growing crops, damage valuable property, and blight our cities and the countryside. In exceptional circumstances, such as those at Donora, Pa, in 1948, they even shorten human life.

The health hazards arising from air pollution, as shown by the Donora disaster, are especially important. We need to find out all we can about the relationship between air contaminants and illness.

It is my hope that the exchange of specialized information which takes place at the United States Technical Conference on Air Pollution will contribute toward prompt initiation of corrective measures.

Since the problem of controlling atmospheric contaminants is primarily local in character, I believe that each locality should study its own situation and draft laws adapted to local conditions. Before this can be done, however, standards for evaluation and control of air pollutants need to be established. The Federal Government should take the leadership in doing this part of the overall research job.

I trust that the recommendations made by this Conference will aid in the shaping of a comprehensive plan for the study and control of atmospheric pollution.

I am most grateful for your participation in this Conference, the progress of which the country is watching with great interest, and I shall look forward to your report.

NOTE: The message was read for the President by Oscar L. Chapman, Secretary of the Interior, at the opening of the conference at 10 a.m. at the Wardman-Park Hotel in Washington.

The United States Technical Conference on Air Pollution was held on May 3, 4, and 5, to consider and discuss the scientific and legal aspects of the various problems of atmospheric contamination. The conference was called by the Interdepartmental Committee on Air Pollution, established as a result of a letter from the President to the heads of the Executive Departments dated December 10, 1949.