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The untold story behind today's Pollution Crisis

Never before have so many ideas, inventions, costly equipment and
broad-scale programs been employed to combat pollution.
Yet, paradoxically, the air you breathe, the water you drink,
the quality of life is deteriorating at an unparalleled rate.
Why this dilemma?
What is the way to solve our mounting pollution problem?


Houston, Texas

WE shall never have, on a nationwide basis, absolutely clean air or pristine pure water. There is a necessary and acceptable amount of each pollutant that society will tolerate."

Shocking statement?

It certainly is. But this admission by a leading U.S. Senator was only one of many alarming facts and conclusions presented at the National Pollution Control Exposition and Conference we attended in the Astrohall in this bustling metropolis of south Texas, April 3-5.

Addressing the 2,000 conference delegates from all across the nation were well-known U.S. Senators and Representatives, top spokesmen from the U.S. Public Health Service, leading state and municipal pollution control officials, plus top-level representatives from private industry. A full-range industrial exhibit with the very latest in pollution control equipment was on display. Ninety-two manufacturers and distributors were represented.


First-of-its-Kind Meeting

Never before had such a broad-based conference on pollution control ever convened. PLAIN TRUTH correspondents were on hand to report not only the facts, but the real meaning behind those facts.

It's time you discovered not only what the causes of pollution are but what the "solution to pollution" is — because THERE IS A SOLUTION! This IS something that even the experts at this conference were seemingly not able to understand.


Nuisances — or Perils to Life?

The facts presented at this conference should shake the last ounce of complacency out of anyone who still naively believes that dirty air, polluted water and all other types of environmental contamination are mere "nuisances" which can be passively tolerated.

Ten or twenty years ago, perhaps. But not today!

"Our physical environment, sad to say, is being contaminated faster than nature and man's present efforts can cleanse it. We must reverse this process of deterioration before it is too late. We must cease degrading our environment and start to improve it." These were the words of Dr. Samuel Lehner, a vice president and director of the world-famous Du Pont Chemical Company. Dr. Lehner delivered the conference's opening-day keynote address.

Echoing Dr. Lehner's words, Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia told the audience at the conference's banquet: "Only recently have we become acutely aware of the fact that we are exceeding nature's ability and capacity to reprocess the kinds and quantities of wastes which are being produced."

The overall public unawareness of what man is doing to his environment has alarmed many of the experts. The Assistant Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Richard A. Prindle drove this point home:

"The deterioration of our environment is a problem so vast and urgent that anxiety about it must not be confined to elected officials, professional health workers and conservationists. Every level and facet of citizenry is affected and must be concerned."

Are you?


Pollution Foe Tells Ugly Facts

During the conference, we talked personally to one of the nation's leading "pollution fighters," Representative John Blatnik of Minnesota. Mr. Blatnik is a pioneer in water quality control legislation. He authored the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1956.

In his capacity as Chairman of the House Rivers and Harbors Subcommittee, Representative Blatnik has toured every major harbor and inland waterway in America. Wherever he went, he told us, he found the conditions of the nation's waters "simply horrible."

PLAIN TRUTH correspondent William Dankenbring asked Representative Blatnik whether every major river system in the United States is plagued with pollution.

Mr. Blatnik's reply: "Practically, yes. The Mississippi River [for example] is already bad by the time it reaches Minneapolis. . . By the time it gets down to Iowa . . . it is getting quite serious, and south of that, by the time all the petro-chemicals and other industrial oils, chemicals, and slaughterhouse wastes along the way are dumped into it — from St. Louis on, it is impossible."

From that point southward he said, the Mississippi is so bad that state health departments and the Federal Public Health Service have posted signs forbidding people to even eat lunches along the banks of it, let alone go wading in the water, or to water ski. The concentration of infectious bacteria in just the spray from the river, when deposited on a person's face or on lips, can cause typhoid, colitis, hepatitis, diarrhea, or infections in the blood stream.

"In fact," said Representative Blatnik, "in plain, simple but honest language, it is rapidly becoming an open, running sewer. This is the great Mississippi River which splits the United States right down the center. . . This is true of the Ohio River, large rivers, small rivers — just name it."


"Punch a Hole in the Bottom of Lake Erie?"

We then asked Representative Blatnik to comment on the conditions in some of America's large lakes — specifically Lake Erie.

Lake Erie, he replied, suffers from an extremely heavy concentration of industrial wastes. Into the lake from the areas around Detroit and Cleveland flow complex concoctions of acids, sulphides, gases, and petro-chemicals.

This "gook" doesn't break up by being aerated. It settles to the bottom of the lake, similar to the way the watery part of milk settles to the bottom while the cream goes to the top. When fresh water flows in from Lake Huron it merely slithers across the top of this heavier density and on into Lake Ontario. There is no flushing action as there would be with organic or human wastes.

Scientists and engineers who are working on Lake Erie are fearful that the pollution process in the lake may well have already passed the point of being reversed. Biologically, Lake Erie is already more than half dead, robbed of life-supporting oxygen.

"What then can be done — if anything — to save Lake Erie?" we asked Mr. Blatnik.

"This is merely a preliminary, speculative thinking on engineering lines," he answered; "but what you may have to do is punch a hole in the bottom of the eastern end of Lake Erie. It would be like cutting in underneath and boring a hole into a bathtub and having all this heavy stuff drain out."

Just where you would dump all the "gook", of course, is a monumental problem in itself. Just to begin the complex task of restoring Lake Erie (if indeed it is now possible at all) would involve an outlay of half a billion dollars!


Cost of Cleanup Enormous

We then asked Mr. Blatnik what are the major obstacles in the way of cleaning up our polluted environment.

"Oh, the major obstacle is very obvious," he replied. "It is the magnitude of the problem and the complexity of the problem."

How much would an all-out assault on pollution in America cost?

Hold on to your chair! If all forms of pollution were to be tackled, the combined industrial, municipal, state and private expenditures could rise as high as ten billion dollars a year for 20 years — or a total of 200 billion dollars!

"We are racing against time" concluded Mr. Blatnik seriously. "Time is bringing us more people, and more people will bring us much more industry . . . and more competition and demand for water."

Here Representative Blatnik hit on the crux of the problem — more people, more industry, and the crowding of both into less and less space in our complex, highly-urbanized society.

Pollution is basically an urban problem. It runs concurrent with all of the other ills of modern city life — crime, juvenile delinquency, noise, congestion, frustration and stress upon the individual. Yet, cities are becoming larger all the time. Entering our vocabularies are such terms as "megalopolis" or "maxi-city" — each word denoting a giant sprawling urban complex in which all the ills of city living are compounded and maximized.

Pollution is by no means limited to the United States. Most of the western world is in the throes of an industrial upsurge and is consequently experiencing the curse of contamination to some degree or another. But it is in America, the world's most highly developed industrial society, that the crisis has reached the "do-something-drastic-or-else" stage.