Ross Vander Meulen is far too young to remember the 1948 Donora Smog, when air pollution over a Pennsylvania steel town grew so toxic that it killed 20 people and sickened thousands more. At 23, he doesn’t remember the Los Angeles of the 1950s, when small children sometimes fainted from the smog. It seems unimaginable to him that, in 1969, a sheen of toxins coating Ohio’s Cuyahoga River burst into flame.
The former civil and environmental engineering graduate student has grown up in an America relatively free of the unchecked pollution that was commonplace in the early and middle 20th century. And it didn’t happen by accident.
This excerpt is republished from Michigan Engineering. Read the full article here.