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Striking images show what the environment looked like before the EPA

Gary Miller/EPA via U.S. National Archives(WASHINGTON) -- Public concern for the environment led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, which began operations on Dec. 2, 1970.

Its mission? “To protect human health by safeguarding the air we breathe, water we drink and land on which we live,” according to the EPA website.

From 1971 to 1977, the agency created a visual baseline to understand the state of the environment. For the project, called Documerica, the EPA collected over 15,000 images related to environmental problems.

Here’s a look at some of the most striking images from the project on the U.S. National Archive's Flickr page.

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