In the 1940s, when smog in Los Angeles brought visibility down to three blocks and people complained of smarting eyes, breathing discomfort, and nausea, the United States took notice. In 1947, SRI began more than a decade of research to understand the problem and its mitigation. In 1956, McGraw-Hill published the Air Pollution Handbook, edited by SRI researchers, that is still in use today.
SRI, with assistance from three California universities, hosted the first national symposium on air pollution in Pasadena, California on November 10-11, 1949. Four hundred scientists, businessmen, and civic leaders heard presentations by experts and exchanged ideas and research techniques. SRI also co-sponsored the second and third symposia in 1952 and 1955.
These events spurred the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, the first federal law regarding air pollution.
SRI’s R&D for a cleaner environment continues today in clean materials, green technology, and processes for renewable energy and energy storage.