On May 28, 1908, the Los Angeles Society for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis was formed at the Hotel Westminster at 4th and Main Streets, with 250 members and a treasury of $175. ?The society's first project was the sale of 50,000 Christmas Seals to fight the epidemic of tuberculosis (TB). ? Known as the "white plague," ?TB was responsible for one in eight deaths in 1908.
Over the next decades, TB continued its ravages, and the association kept fighting. ?By the end of the 1920s a total of 22 TB clinics had been opened in Los Angeles, and the first tuberculosis sanitarium, holding beds for 100 patients, had been opened at Olive View. ?The association held a series of lectures in Spanish at the Plaza Community Center, which marked the first of the organization's efforts to provide educational materials and programs to the Hispanic community.
In 1933, the organization was the driving force behind an extensive program of skin testing and chest x-rays in the public schools. ?Finally, the efforts of the association paid off: ?the decade of the 30s saw a significant decline in the death rate from TB. ?Through the 1940s, the organization saw little growth, largely because public attention and efforts were so absorbed by World War II. ?Post-war activity saw the creation of a committee within the organization to control venereal disease by increasing public awareness and education for health professionals.
In 1952, Isoniazid (INH), a drug for the treatment of tuberculosis, was discovered and its use soon became widely used, bringing the "white plague" under control.
The organization responded to this positive development, not by contracting its efforts, but instead by broadening the goals of the Association to include the fight against other important lung diseases: asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.
In the 1960s, only 18 out of every 100,000 people had active TB, compared with 288 in 1908. ?The organization took an increasing interest in the relationship between air pollution and respiratory disease, and by the end of the 60s, the fight against smog had become one of the organization's major efforts. ?Recognizing the strong correlation between tobacco use and lung disease, the ALALAC joined with other health agencies in mounting a strong anti-smoking campaign on TV and radio.
In the 1970s the organization sponsored extensive research on the effect of air pollution on respiratory health in Los Angeles County. ?Then, towards the end of the decade, the ugly beast raised its head again: a sharp increase in the number of TB cases in Los Angeles County made TB once again a priority concern.
In 1980, the Association's name was changed to its current name, the American Lung Association of Los Angeles County (ALALAC). ?During the 1980s, the cases of TB continued to grow in number, the Association once again was heavily involved in education and skin-testing programs. ?Anti-smoking and clean-air initiatives also remained high on the Association's agenda.
In the 1990s, TB is still very much a concern of the Association, but our goals are now much broader. ?We promote lung health in every sense, fighting actively against all pulmonary and respiratory diseases. ?Included in our efforts are anti-smoking campaigns, summer camps and support groups for individuals suffering from asthma, and advocacy efforts supporting clean-air legislation. ?We enthusiastically look forward to facing the lung-health challenges ahead in the 21st century.
(Page Format Updated 01/24/99)
When You Can't Breathe, Nothing Else Matters ?
The mission of the American Lung Association of Los Angeles County
is to prevent and eliminate lung disease
and to improve the quality of life and health of those with lung disease.
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? 1999 American Lung Association of Los Angeles County