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Smog testing with human subjects

Smog testing with human subjects

June 28, 1956: Chemical engineer Edward Liston, right, of Stanford Research Institute  checks on five subjects in a smog chamber breathing reconstituted smog and noting reactions on pads. The testing was being conducted at SRI labs in South Pasadena.

This photo by staff photographer Jack Carrick accompanied a June 29, 1956,  Los Angeles Times story reporting the Stanford Research Institute enlarging its presence in Southern California:

Recently SRI became the second largest organization of its kind in the United States, with a staff of 1,265 and a rate of contract research in excess of $12,000,000 annually. It is a nonprofit, public service organization associated with Stanford University. However, it is a separate corporation of which the general members are the trustees of the university.

The Institute has had laboratory locations since early 1948 when facilities were established to conduct smog studies.

In a followup story in the Sept. 10, 1956 Los Angeles Times, writer William S. Barton further explained the smog chamber testing:

Inside the building Operation Auto Exhaust, a project of the Air Pollution Foundation, was going on. Its purpose is to save automobile owners from being asked to pay for a device that might reduce one pollutant in exhaust but not reduce eye irritation.

Five young women were sitting in partitioned booths, wearing plastic masks into which various mixtures were piped. They were never told whether they are exposed to purified air, some automobile exhaust or some irradiated air.

The partitions keep them from seeing each other blink or wipe their eyes. With a large clock in front of them they note the exact time and degree of any eye irritation felt. The notes are later compared with records kept at the control valves of the smog chamber.

The exhaust is provided by an ordinary automobile, hooked up with its engine running through typical idling, acceleration, cruising and deceleration phases.

1 Comment

  1. August 31, 2012, 12:58 am

    This is horrific ! It's not a great example of those supposedly good ol' days

    By: Dino

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