Archive for the ‘History’ Category

“Crocidolite” Rock

Advertising for asbestos flooring circa 1965. How could you not want one after this commercial?

Asbestos is possibly one of the most notorious silicate minerals in history. There may be evidence of its problematic pulmonic properties as early as 3000 BC.  Certainly, Emperor Charlemagne might have preferred a less toxic choice of table cloth.

The CDC, whose website has seen a recent aesthetic upgrade, has some handy workplace recommendations for those who work in environments where asbestos is present. Among those at an increased exposure risk are automotive places (brakes & clutches), railroads and maritime operations.

Be healthy,



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The following is a digital reproduction of the events leading to the explosion at the BP Refinery in Texas City, Texas. The explosion and fire resulted in the death of fifteen workers and the injury of 170 by flammable gasoline.

This video was produced by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board who have a youtube channel.

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Occupational Epi unveiled

Dr. Alice Hamilton

Dr. Alice Hamilton

What is occupational epidemiology?

You can certainly find more comprehensive definitions through the links to your right, but, in short, epidemiology is the study of factors affecting illness and health. The “occupational” part situates our inquiry in the context of work.

The mother of Occupational Epidemiology is Dr. Alice Hamilton. Of the many firsts she achieved (like becoming the first woman appointed to faculty at Harvard University), she pioneered a field which continues to benefit the world. Read her amazing story here. There is a video of her story that I will try to unearth.

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Occassionally, I come across old videos concerning work-related illness either through class or web-surfing. I will be posting those in order to catalogue them for my own sake. I’ll try to give some background and context with each as well.

The following is a 1938 clip warning of the dangers of inhaling Silica.

History of Silica Exposure

Silicosis is still one of the most prevalent work-related lung disease. There is no cure, so personal protective wear must be utilized to prevent disease. Here are a few tips for those working with Silica.

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Pioneer of the Smallpox vaccine. Edward Jenner

Pioneer of the Smallpox vaccine. Edward Jenner

Are you familiar with the historical event which links dairymaids to the eradication of smallpox? Don’t know the story?! Get it here.

The title of this post refers to a recent report about an 2008 incident involving a young lab worker in Virginia. In early July, the labworker began experiencing fever, eye swelling and lymph node tenderness that progressed over seven days. On July 2nd he visited a hospital to be evaluated. It was discovered that he had worked with Vaccinia virus (VAVC) on June 26 despite his earlier claim to the contrary. This early ommision caused physicians to priortize infection in the differential diagnosis throughout his 5-day treatment. Patient samples were sent to the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Laboratory Response Network who were able to quickly identify the virus.

The academic institution underwent review and it was found that VAVC training was not mandatory for researchers who worked with the virus. As a result of the incident, vaccination is offered and VAVC training and counseling is mandatory for researchers working with the substance.

The full story.

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