By Sara Harris, Hear in the City/Newsdesk.org
I'm reading up on local history and air quality maps for our Air Check series on air pollution in Los Angeles. 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. You can visit the Smogtown website: http://www.lasmogtown.com/
Newsdesk.org's award-winning, crowd-funded Toxic Tour project comes to Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco. We're working with local news producers in each city to help develop and fund their work, and put neglected public-health issues "on the map." In the process we hope to create a new model for independent journalism.