About Industrial Hygiene?

So, what is Industrial Hygiene?

For many people the name "Industrial Hygiene" brings to mind a picture of a person with a large mop and brush cleaning a factory. With others the picture is a person using dental floss on a building.

Actually, Industrial Hygiene is a scientific discipline that combines analytical chemistry, toxicology, and preventive medicine with overtones of health physics, ergonomics, and industrial safety.

According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the definition of Industrial Hygiene is:

Industrial Hygiene: The science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, prevention, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace which may cause sickness, impaired health and well being, or significant discomfort among workers or among citizens of the community.

The roots of Industrial Hygiene go back to antiquity.
~400 BCHippocrates studies lead toxicity in mining
~100 ADPliny the Elder (Roman scholar) studies zinc and sulfur hazards and develops a protective mask
~200 ADGalen studies expoure to acid mists in copper miners
1473 ADUlrich Ellenbog publishes a report of occupational illness in gold miners
1556 ADThe German scholar, Agricola publishes De Re Metallica dealing with diseases of coal miners and preventive measures

In the United States concern for reducing worker injury and illnesses saw a milestone event with the formation of the National Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (NCGIH) in 1938 and the American Industrial Hygiene Assocation (AIHA) in 1939. Although the NCGIH changed its name to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists in 1969 both organizations are alive and well and are actively improving the health and well-being of workers throughout the world.

The Iowa-Illinois area was involved in the beginnings of Industial Hygiene when Clyde Berry, Lester Cralley, and Lewis Cralley began a doctoral program at the University of Iowa in 1938. All three graduated and went on to become pioneers in the Industrial Hygiene profession as well as being elected to serve as the President of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. In 1955 Dr. Berry returned to the University of Iowa and revitalized the Industrial Hygiene program at the University of Iowa.


Last Modified: Friday, March 7, 2008