Chemical-topia: Our Fate Written Within a Century

By: Ally Hoogs

Graphic by Savannah West

The air in Walnut Creek is very clean compared to other cities throughout the world, but it wasn’t always that way. 

In 1948 and the surrounding years, the United States was under intense manufacturing development, creating the products well-known today. It spat out millions of cubic tons of contaminated air into the atmosphere in places like Los Angeles and Pennsylvania, leaving young lungs to suffer.

Cities that are “primarily in the industrialized regions of the United States and Europe…suffered from notoriously bad air quality. These events were the result of very high emissions of sulfur dioxide, smoke, and other particles during stagnant, foggy weather conditions,” according to, which is characteristic of the mid-1900s. 

From there, contamination was at its height during the 1960s were noted by, “air pollution got so bad in Los Angeles that reportedly ‘parents kept their kids out of school…[and] athletes trained indoors’”.

This also happened in 1952’s London where terrible air quality “killed at least 4,000 people… over several days,” the History Channel reported. “In LA improvements to the air have been made but it remains a health risk in cities with really condensed populations” in the U.S. and other countries. 

Meenakshi Srinivasan, who lived in India during her elementary years, commented that “The air quality in India was pretty bad…half the people there had allergies from the bad air…[which] always smelled like smoke and chemicals. She made sure to emphasize that it is currently “not getting better because more people are getting cars and the population in the cities in India is increasing.” 

Las Lomas freshman, Levi Ho, lived in China for years and noted in an interview that “the air pollution has been getting worse and worse… since more and more people are smoking,” but the world is starting to become more educated on the importance of global health. additionally wrote that “[Other] places in China like Beijing now are facing what LA did in the 1940s due to so many people living and driving around in gas engines and since they are downwind from other countries who produce smog,” which created an environment of microscopic death for all to inhale.