An industrial hygiene engineer measures fumes emitted by a lead casting apparatus in 1950
|Jurisdiction||Federal government of the United States|
|Headquarters|| Pittsburgh (1914–1918)|
|Parent agency|| Hygienic Laboratory (1914–1918)|
Division of Scientific Research (1919–1937)
Office of Field Investigations into Occupational Diseases (1914–1917)
The Division of Industrial Hygiene was a division of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) with responsibility for occupational safety and health programs. It existed from 1914 until 1971, when it became the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It went through several name changes during its existence, most notably being called the Office of Industrial Hygiene and Sanitation in its earlier years, and the Division of Occupational Health or a variation during its later years.
Its establishment was the result of Progressive Era interest in the conditions of workers, and scientific responses to hazards faced in the workplace. It was headquartered for its first few years in the Pittsburgh U.S. Marine Hospital, and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1918. Its responsibilities expanded during World War I, and during the 1920s its functions grew to include broad field studies integrating both environmental and clinical analyses of workers and workplaces.
In 1937, it became a division of the National Institute of Health, and the following year the Industrial Hygiene Laboratory, the first building built solely for the study of industrial hygiene in the U.S., opened as one of the first three buildings of the new NIH campus. The outbreak of World War II caused a shift away from field investigations towards direct services to the U.S. Army Ordnance Department and state agencies, as well as an increase in laboratory research and development of analytical instrumentation.
The Division was moved into the new Bureau of State Services in 1943 as part of a reorganization of PHS, with the laboratory research programs split off and remaining in NIH. In 1950, its field headquarters moved to Cincinnati to co-locate with the PHS Environmental Health Center already established there. During the 1950s, its funding and activities were greatly reduced, and it was downgraded from division status, but in 1960 it was restored as a division and began to grow again.
An effort to build support for a national occupational health program culminated in the 1965 Frye Report, which recommended that the Division be given specific legislative authority and increased funding. However, the PHS reorganizations of 1966–1973 were particularly turbulent for occupational health, as the organization would pass through 7 operating agencies and bear 4 names during this time. Nevertheless, the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 give PHS responsibility for medical research and examinations, its first legislatively mandated activity in occupational health. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created NIOSH out of the former Division.
Industrial hygiene activities in PHS were established in the context of Progressive Era interest in the conditions of workers in response to the increasing industrialization and urbanization that had occurred since the late 19th century.In addition, the period before and during World War I saw an increasing number of synthetic products whose manufacture exposed workers to new toxins; and increasing specialization of workers as part of an assembly line meant that an illness of one worker caused a greater loss of efficiency. This led to an increase in scientific research and interventions, as well as regulation by state factory inspection bureaus.
Increasing federal involvement in workplace safety included the creation of the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) in 1910 as a response to the 1907 Monongah mining disaster, and the Department of Labor in 1913. PHS itself collaborated with USBM between 1910 and 1914 on studies of silicosis among miners, and in 1913 performed a study of worker health at United States Steel Corporation.During this period, public health as a whole had been revolutionized by advances in bacteriology and the study of communicable diseases. During the 1910s and 1920s, PHS would pioneer the application of qualitative scientific analysis to industrial chemical poisonings and dust diseases. Nevertheless, the federal response to worker health would be limited to conducting and disseminating research, with regulatory responsibility falling to state and local public health agencies.
The 1912 PHS law (Pub.L. 62–265) expanded PHS's mission from communicable into non-communicable diseases. The Office of Field Investigations into Occupational Diseases was established in 1914 as part of the PHS Division of Scientific Research, and was administratively within its Hygienic Laboratory. In 1917 its name changed to Office of Field Investigations in Industrial Sanitation.
In 1915, the Pittsburgh U.S. Marine Hospital became its first home. Laboratories for chemistry, physiology, and bacteriology were constructed on the building's second floor, and a physical laboratory on the ground floor, all in the northwest wing of the building.It was the first laboratory for scientific investigation of occupational health in the United States. Its location was likely due to proximity to the recently established Bruceton Research Center of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, enhancing cooperation on miners' health. In addition, there were no suitable laboratory facilities in Washington, D.C., as the Hygienic Laboratory at the time only conducted biological rather than environmental investigations.
Prior to World War I, its staff consisted of about 12 commissioned medical officers and additional clerical assistants. The Office's initial studies were in the New York garment industry, the Youngstown, Ohio steel industry, various industries of Cincinnati, and miners in Joplin, Missouri.Epidemiological studies of miners in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri were seminal in establishing the scientific study and control of occupational diseases. Additionally, the Office assisted the U.S. Bureau of Standards' effort to create a National Gas Safety Code by performing laboratory studies to determine a "toxic limit" for carbon monoxide.
Its responsibilities expanded during World War I, including sanitation and surgical services for the U.S. Explosive Plant at Nitro, West Virginia, as well as studies of medical facilities and care of workers in 170 war manufacturing plants for materials including TNT, tetryl, picric acid, and war gases, as well as in shell loading plants. Other studies during the war related to lead poisoning in the pottery industry, health hazards in the glass and chemical industries, industrial fatigue, illumination, and the physiological effects of high temperature and humidity.During the war, the Office often performed field studies with the goal of providing individualized recommendations for a particular workplace.
The Office relocated to Washington, D.C. in October 1918.From July 1918 to October 1919, the Office was reconstituted as the Division of Industrial Hygiene and Medicine within the Department of Labor, returning to PHS afterwards as a constituent part of the Division of Scientific Research. On July 1, 1919, the name of the division changed again to the Office of Industrial Hygiene and Sanitation.
Since there were still no laboratory facilities for industrial hygiene in Washington, technical staff was assigned to various academic institutions, such as Yale and Johns Hopkins University, and to USBM,and temporary field offices were set up in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Chicago. During this period, PHS's facilities in Washington, D.C. consisted of the Butler Building and Temporary Building C, until it moved to the new Public Health Service Building in May 1933. Additionally, the Old Naval Observatory hosted the campus of the Hygienic Laboratory, which in 1930 became the National Institute of Health.
In the 1920s, the Office shifted from individualized wartime field studies into broader field studies intended for wide publication and promotion to other occupational health experts and practitioners.Additionally, its initial studies focusing primarily on clinical studies of workers grew to include study of factors in the work environment. Its projects included evaluating potential hazards to developing ventilation design specifications for the Holland Tunnel, as well as studies to determine pathological effects and develop engineering controls for dusts of silica, marble, asbestos, and coal. These studies included the first use of the Greenburg–Smith impinger for dust sampling, as well as the first epidemiological study of the pulmonary effects of coal mine dust. The Office also conducted medical examinations of employees of the Bureau of Standards having an exposure to radium, one of the earliest documented reports on heat stress, and early studies on community air pollution. During this period, the Office also facilitated the start of state industrial hygiene departments. Another effort included the development of cyanogen chloride as a safer alternative to hydrogen cyanide as a fumigant.
The Office led a 1925–1926 study of the health effects of tetraethyl lead in gasoline to set proposed regulations covering its manufacture, blending, mixing, and distribution, and precautions for automobile garages, repair shops, service stations, and filling stations. These proposals were voluntarily adopted by tetraethyl lead and remained in use with modifications for decades.The tetraethyl lead study was seen as the culmination of industrial hygiene's development as a scientific field integrating both environmental and clinical analyses, with the goal of providing objective technical information for use by others, rather than directly advocating for policy changes. This approach would persist until World War II.
The onset of the Great Depression brought almost a complete cessation of field investigations. However, after the 1934 Hawks Nest Tunnel disaster where many workers died of silicosis, the Office's prior studies were instrumental in state governments establishing hygienic standards for silica dust.Additionally, a study of mercury poisoning in the felt hat industry led to its outlawing as a carroting agent and its substitution with a non-toxic substance. The Division also began offering training courses in 1936. Nevertheless, during this period occupational diseases received less attention from public health officials than sanitation and communicable diseases, with the exception of silicosis and lead or mercury poisoning, as other occupational diseases were considered to be low-incidence or non-disabling. As of 1937, the South Building of the National Institute of Health's campus at the Old Naval Observatory was being renovated for the Office's use, although at the time the Office was not part of NIH.
The formation of the Division of Labor Standards within the Department of Labor in 1934 led to competition between the two agencies over whether a regulatory or advisory agency should coordinate state and local industrial hygiene agencies,with PHS emphasizing a role as a non-partisan provider of scientific data, while the Department of Labor actively advocated for labor unions' efforts to improve work conditions. The Social Security Act of 1935 provided funds that PHS used for seed grants for state industrial hygiene agencies. An early project was a 15-state industrial hygiene survey to generate data to guide states in instituting programs. Before 1936, only five state health departments had industrial hygiene units, but by 1938, 24 states had established offices using Social Security Act funds, and by 1949 only three states would lack such units. This expansion in state health departments often came at the expense of state labor departments, as the Department of Labor did not have its own grantmaking authority for state governments, and a 1939 attempt to give them this authority failed.
In 1937, the National Institute of Health (NIH) absorbed the rest of the Division of Scientific Research, of which it was formerly part. At the same time the Office of Industrial Hygiene and Sanitation was combined with the Office of Dermatoses Investigations, which had existed since 1931, to form the Division of Industrial Hygiene within NIH.When NIH moved to its new campus in Bethesda, Maryland in 1938, one of its first three buildings was the Industrial Hygiene Laboratory, now known as Building 2. It was the first building built solely for the study of industrial hygiene in the United States.
Lewis Ryers Thompson, who had been Chief of the Office of Industrial Hygiene and Sanitation during the 1920s, became the NIH Director at the same time. During his tenure as NIH Director and later Chief of the Bureau of State Services, he emphasized industrial hygiene as the emerging core of public health efforts.During the 1940s, the Division leadership was Chief J. G. Townsend and Assistant Chief John J. Bloomfield. Their tenure focused on creating productive synergies within the multidisciplinary division, and accelerating occupational toxicology studies, especially of newer synthetic chemicals. In 1939, Olive M. Whitlock became the first industrial nurse to work for the United States federal government, and authored a report making recommendations on the recruitment and core duties of industrial nurses. Around this time, the Division began publishing the Industrial Hygiene Newsletter, which served as a forum of communication with related governmental programs. As of 1938, the Division had 59 industrial hygiene specialists.
The outbreak of World War II caused a shift away from field investigations towards direct services to the U.S. Army Ordnance Department and state agencies. Between 1939 and 1943 the Division grew from a professional staff of fewer than 30 individuals into a staff of about 125, of which 68 were commissioned officers.At its height during this period, the Division had over 200 employees. During this period, productivity was of paramount concern, and worker health was perceived to support the nation's productive capacity. Industrial workers were considered to be vital to victory in the war, leading to increased resources for research and interventions to support their health.
A significant program was the prevention of TNT poisoning and other diseases at government-owned, contractor-operated arsenals manufacturing TNT, RDX, tetryl, smokeless powder, and tracer materials; as well as practices in bomb and shell loading plants.The Division organized industrial hygiene teams to be present in arsenals to oversee worker health. This program was much more successful than its World War I predecessor, as there were only 22 reported deaths from TNT poisoning in the United States during World War II.
The Division's laboratory research activities during the war supported the TNT effort, and also included studies of other toxic gases and dusts present in factories, as well as the health effects of lighting and ventilation.Other objects of study were industrial dermatitis and melanosis, the effects of the agricultural insecticide lead arsenate, and the collection and analysis of statistical data on occupational disease incidences and work days lost to illness. Other toxicological studies were performed on toluene, vanadium, beryllium, manganese, vinyl cyanide, and lead azide.
Additionally, the Division operated a grant program for states to purchase industrial hygiene equipment and employ personnel. It also performed air pollution studies in Los Angeles, determining that its smog was primarily the result of industrial pollution.
Many of these studies required staff to create their own tests and equipment. These included new spectroscopy methods to detect toxic substances in air and body fluids, including a spectrometer built by Frederick S. Brackett containing two of the largest natural quartz prisms in the world. Another innovation was a portable colorimeter to measure carbon monoxide in the blood of truck drivers.In addition, studies were performed using a pressure chamber to simulate and research the effects of low pressure on pilots.
In 1943, PHS reorganized into three top-level bureaus into which the Divisions were placed. Townsend and Bloomfield wanted to refocus on promotion of state programs supported by field investigations,while NIH decided to limit its programs strictly to research. The Division of Industrial Hygiene was thus moved into the new Bureau of State Services, with the research programs split off and remaining in NIH as the Industrial Hygiene Laboratory. The Division's laboratory support facilities relocated to NIH Building T-8.
The end of World War II caused a decrease in the funding and size of the Division,coinciding with decreased public interest and engagement with worker health. In 1947, the Division moved its administrative offices from Bethesda to the Federal Security Building—South in Washington, D.C. The same year, the NIH Industrial Hygiene Laboratory was renamed the Laboratory of Physical Biology and refocused on basic research in biological chemistry and physics, with industrial hygiene investigations moved back to the Division of Industrial Hygiene. (The Laboratory of Physical Biology was soon made part of the Experimental Biology and Medicine Institute, predecessor of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and existed until around 2001–2002. ) In 1949, the Division's staff had dwindled to 32.
During the immediate postwar period, the Division stationed industrial hygiene specialists in some PHS regional offices. This program was ended in 1948, and the Division reacted by creating a field station in Salt Lake City with an initial staff of four on the grounds of the former Fort Douglas, which was donated by the University of Utah.In 1947, the Division began investigating bronchogenic carcinoma in the chromate industry. The Division also performed a major study of the 1948 Donora smog, which involved a multidisciplinary 25-person team interviewing 1,500 families and testing more than 4,000 air samples.
The 1950s were a period in which occupational health did not attract national attention as a major concern, continuing a trend that had begun with the end of World War II.In 1950, the Division moved to Cincinnati, residing in a converted warehouse at 1014 Broadway. NIH funded the renovation of the building to serve as the Division's new Field Headquarters. Cincinnati was already home of the PHS Environmental Health Center, which originated from the 1913 establishment of a Field Investigation Station for water pollution research in the former Cincinnati U.S. Marine Hospital building, and had expanded into air, industrial, chemical pollution and radiological health research during and after World War II. The increased space allowed the Division to restart laboratory research interrupted by World War II, and facilitated consultative services to industrial regions in the Midwestern United States. The administrative offices remained in Washington, D.C.
Seward E. Miller succeeded Townsend as the Division Chief in 1951. He sought to broaden the Division, expanding into occupational medicine and psychiatry, and made an unsuccessful proposal to establish a National Institute of Occupational Health.The Division's name was changed to the Division of Occupational Health late in 1951. However, in 1951, funding for grants to states was ended. In 1953–1954, severe budget cuts caused the end of programs in absenteeism, industrial health and medicine, occupational psychiatry, and states relations, as well as publication of the Industrial Hygiene Newsletter. The Program largely changed focus from investigative research to health services research, reflecting the growth of private health and life insurance.
Also in 1953, as part of a realignment of the Bureau's programs into fewer, larger divisions, the Division was demoted to become the Occupational Health Program within the new Division of Special State Services,along with the Bureau of State Services' other programs in chronic and non-communicable diseases, with Miller leading the combined division. The four divisions of the Environmental Health Center were instead combined into the Division of Sanitary Engineering Services, which moved in 1954 from the former Marine Hospital to the newly constructed Robert A. Taft Sanitary Engineering Center, named for the recently deceased Senator Robert A. Taft. Initial plans would have constructed a second building adjacent to the Taft Center for the Division of Occupational Health, but this was cancelled in 1953. Another proposal to move it to a new building or buildings on the Taft Center campus was made in 1958, but scrapped in 1960.
In the mid-1950s, the Program's major field investigations were on silicosis in the metal mining industry, lung cancer in uranium miners, and hearing loss among prison workers.The silicosis program in particular was the result of a 1955 Congressional appropriation, and its success would lead to further funding increases. A program in ergonomics began in 1959. Through the 1950s, the Program generally had around 70–85 budgeted positions.
In 1960, the Program was restored as the Division of Occupational Health and made part of the Environmental Health Divisions unit, one of two units of the Bureau of State Services, along with the other PHS divisions in Cincinnati.This coincided with an increase in funding, as House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Fogarty was interested in industrial safety and health, and as the silicosis studies had been well received. In particular, the program in coal pneumoconiosis was greatly expanded, leading to the establishment of the Appalachian Laboratory for Occupational Respiratory Diseases in Morgantown, West Virginia in 1967. The Division's number of employees increased from 87 in 1960, to 220 in 1964.
In 1964, the Division's major activities included hazards in uranium mines, silicosis in metal mines, industrial noise, hazards to animal feed mill workers, dermatology, toxicology, use of analytical instrumentation, morbidity and mortality studies, training, grantmaking, and consultative technical assistance to other agencies and organizations.
PHS leased space in the 5555 Ridge Avenue building in Cincinnati (now the Alice Hamilton Laboratory) beginning in 1962.The building had been constructed during 1952–1954 and was initially the headquarters and manufacturing plant of Disabled American Veterans. A 1962 report recommended moving the Environmental Health Divisions, including the Division of Occupational Health, from Cincinnati to a new facility in Washington, D.C., as the Taft Center was considered inadequate to the recommended expansions of activities, and Cincinnati was considered to have difficulties in attracting scientific personnel and was far from the facilities of other federal agencies; however, this was never carried out.
Under the leadership of Murray C. Brown, there was an effort to build support for a national occupational health program, as the Division had existed without any specific legislative authority since its establishment 50 years prior. He enlisted Louisiana State University Medical Center Chancellor William W. Frye to develop a special report to state national goals for occupational health and make program recommendations. The report, entitled "Protecting the Health of Eighty Million Americans—A National Goal for Occupational Health", was submitted as a special report to the Surgeon General on November 19, 1965.The report stated that "The Division of Occupational Health has the leadership and skills upon which an effective, imaginative national program can be built... The Division needs only the legislative authority and funds to extend its existing activities and to assume effective responsibility for areas of need identified for many years." All of its 17 program recommendations were eventually implemented. At the same time, President Lyndon B. Johnson took interest in workplace hazards and began integrating the topic into his speeches beginning in May 1966, and in 1968 he would propose the first version of the legislation that would later become the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The PHS reorganizations of 1966–1973 were particularly turbulent for occupational health, as the organization would pass through seven operating agencies and bear four names during this time.In January 1967, the first wave of the reorganizations broke up the Bureau of State Services into three components, and the Division became the Occupational Health Program of the National Center for Urban and Industrial Health, which was part of the Bureau of Disease Prevention and Environmental Control. The National Center for Urban and Industrial Health also included programs for solid wastes, injury control, water supply and shellfish, and arctic health. As each national center was to be centralized in a specific city, the Occupational Health Program's administrative staff moved from Washington, D.C. to Cincinnati.
However, another reorganization in 1968 reoriented most of PHS around two broad administrations: the Consumer Protection and Environmental Health Service (CPEHS), and the Health Services and Mental Health Administration (HSMHA).The Occupational Health Program became the Bureau of Occupational Safety and Health (BOSH), one of five bureaus within the Environmental Control Administration, which was part of CPEHS. The effect of these reorganizations was to move the occupational health unit lower in the hierarchy, with more levels between it and Department of Health, Education, and Welfare leadership. The BOSH administrative offices relocated at this time to Rockville, Maryland.
A coal mine explosion in Farmington, West Virginia in 1968 led to the passage of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, which was proposed during the Johnson administration and passed early in the Nixon administration.While the Bureau of Mines was the enforcing agency, PHS was given responsibility for medical research and examinations. The law was the first legislatively mandated activity of BOSH or any of its predecessors, and was seminal in establishing federal rather than state supremacy in regulating industrial safety and health.
CPEHS was broken up in 1970, largely as a consequence of the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that year.The Environmental Control Administration's five bureaus were spit between PHS and EPA, with BOSH moving into HSMHA and the environmental health programs in the Taft Center becoming the core of EPA's research program.
NIOSH was created out of the Bureau of Occupational Safety and Health by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and began operating on April 28, 1971.Senator Jacob Javits sponsored the amendment that created NIOSH. The act established a right to a safe and healthful workplace, and established a scientific regulatory program to support this. In addition to research, training and education, on-site investigations, and extramural research funding activities, NIOSH was given the legislative responsibility to conduct research to recommend standards to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in the form of criteria documents. It did not have the authority to promulgate binding standards in most cases, with the exception of respirator testing and approval. This independence was meant to allow it to coordinate research efforts scattered across many agencies and private organizations, and shield it from political interference directed at regulatory agencies. Its increase in functions corresponded with an increase in its size, as 501 full-time positions were budgeted for in its first year. Marcus M. Key, who was Chief of the Bureau of Occupational Safety and Health, became the first Director of NIOSH.
When HSMHA was broken up in 1973, NIOSH was transferred into what was then called the Center for Disease Control (CDC).The transfer was based on the two agencies' common goal of preventative healthcare, although NIOSH's broad range of functions including research meant that it would not cleanly fit under any other agency. Additionally, CDC Director David Sencer was at the time also acting HSMHA Administrator, and was seeking to expand CDC's scope by absorbing other components of HSMHA. The move was criticized for moving NIOSH lower in the hierarchy and limiting the number of high-level positions available.
Prior to 1976, NIOSH's Cincinnati operations occupied space at three locations in Downtown Cincinnati: 1014 Broadway, the Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse, and the John Weld Peck Federal Building; as well as the rented space at 5555 Ridge Avenue in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood.In 1976, staff at the three Downtown locations were relocated to the Taft Center, which EPA was vacating to occupy the new Andrew W. Breidenbach Environmental Research Center elsewhere in Cincinnati. The move to Taft was intended as a temporary measure, as 1014 Broadway was too small for the expanded agency and was nearing condemnation, and NIOSH was intended to move into a new building to be constructed next to the EPA Breidenbach Center. However, later in 1976 a measure sponsored by Wisconsin Representative Dave Obey forced a reevaluation of NIOSH's location, in hopes of having it move to another city. Prior studies in 1973 and 1975 had concluded that NIOSH should stay at a new facility in Cincinnati, but the new report recommended that it move to Chicago instead. The report's conclusions were rejected by Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph A. Califano Jr. on the basis that it did not adequately consider cost factors including the cost of relocation. In 1978, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare made a determination that NIOSH did not require a new facility after all, making permanent its location in Cincinnati and the Taft Center.
By 1973, the entire 5555 Ridge Avenue building in Cincinnati was leased by the federal government; it would be purchased outright by the PHS in 1982, and in 1987 it was renamed the Alice Hamilton Laboratory for Occupational Safety and Health, after occupational health pioneer Alice Hamilton.The Appalachian Laboratory for Occupational Respiratory Diseases, which had been created in 1967 to focus on black lung disease research, opened its new building in Morgantown, West Virginia in 1971. The Salt Lake City field station became the Western Area Laboratory for Occupational Safety and Health (WALOSH) and moved into a newly constructed facility in 1975; however, the following year WALOSH was disbanded and the facility was transferred to OSHA, with its functions and a few of its staff transferred to Morgantown. In 1981, the Rockville, Maryland headquarters was moved to Atlanta to co-locate with CDC headquarters, with some staff moving to Cincinnati; the headquarters would return to Washington, D.C. in 1994.
|Joseph W. Schereschewsky||1914–1918|
|Anthony J. Lanza||1918–1920|
|Bernard J. Newman||1920–1921||temporary|
|William J. McConnell||1921|
|Lewis Ryers Thompson||1921–1930|
|James P. Leake||1930–1932|
|Royd Ray Sayers||1932–1940||became U.S. Bureau of Mines director in 1940|
|Paul A. Neil||1940–1941|
|James G. Townsend||1941–1951|
|Seward E. Miller||1951–1954||became Chief of Division of Special Health Services in 1954–1956|
|Henry N. Doyle||1954–1956|
|Harold J. Magnuson||1956–1962|
|W. Clark Cooper||1962–1963|
|Murray C. Brown||1964–1969|
|Duncan A. Holaday||1969||acting|
|Marcus M. Key||1969–1971||became first NIOSH director until 1974|
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