"The problem of city smoke is attracting increasing attention on the part of the public and various governmental bodies." H. E. Clifford, acting dean of the Harvard Engineering School stated yesterday in discussing work being done on this problem at the school. At the same time Corporation Counsel Samuel Silverman stated at a conference attended by many Boston industrial leaders that the city is helpless to abate the smoke nuisance, since its only recourse to obtaining adequate regulation is through special legislation which would remove it from the jurisdiction of the present inadequate state smoke law.
"Smoke abatement work," Dean Clifford said, "is to the engineer simply the application of sound and well-known engineering principles to the design and operation of the fuel-burning plants. Along this line, a member of the faculty of the Engineering School has had occasion to visit several boiler rooms in and about Boston with a view to inspecting the equipment, supervising alterations, and instructing the firemen.
"The study of the existing conditions is a different type of task, partaking somewhat of the nature of research. The rate at which dust is deposited at various places and under varying conditions must be studied. This accounts for the relatively coarse dust particles, but it gives only the aggregate quantity collected in a given place over the period of test. The next step is to study the nature of this material with a view to determining. If possible, where it came from. This involves chemical and microscopic study of the dust collected.
"In addition to this something must be done to determine the quantity of finer dust particles suspended in the atmosphere under various circumstances. This immediately leads to a study of the factors influencing this suspension of solid matter, for the facts seem to indicate some unexpected conclusions, such as that a rain storm does not materially reduce the 'dust count' of the atmosphere. And yet something is reducing it, or it would increase without limit. Much work remains to be done on this question.
"There is also need for physiological studies of the effects of air pollution upon living organisms, both vegetable and animal.
"All of the physical aspects of the study of existing conditions are included in a study now in active progress under the direction of a member of the faculty of the Engineering School. The nature of the work makes it impossible to say much about it in detail, because of the danger of arousing misdirected public enthusiasm."