Toxic legacy: the environmental impact of the manufactured gas industry in the United States

Technol Cult. 2014 Jan;55(1):107-47, 2 p preceding 1. doi: 10.1353/tech.2014.0008.


The manufactured gas industry provided cities in the United States with energy for light and power during much of the period from approximately 1850 to 1950. This article explores the history of the effects of this industry on air, land, and water environments; it also examines attempts by the courts and municipal and state governments to regulate gas-waste pollution and the industry's response. The article concludes by exploring the heritage of badly contaminated sites that the manufactured gas industry left to the nation after it was replaced by natural gas after World War II.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Energy Resources / history*
  • Environment
  • Environmental Pollution / adverse effects
  • Environmental Pollution / history*
  • Extraction and Processing Industry / history*
  • Fossil Fuels / adverse effects
  • Fossil Fuels / history*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • United States


  • Fossil Fuels