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June, 1986, Vol. 109, No. 6
BLS and Alice Hamilton:
pioneers in industrial health
In September 1910, Alice Hamilton, chief medical examiner for the Illinois State Commission on Occupational Diseases, was in Brussels attending the International Congress on Occupational Diseases, at which the Belgian delegate dismissed U.S. activities in the field of industrial hygiene with the comment, "Ca n'existe pas [They do not exist]".1 But that condition had already begun to change, and at the International Congress, Hamilton met Charles P. Neill, Commissioner of Labor, one of the persons primarily responsible for the recent surge in publicity on industrial poisons. Shortly thereafter, Hamilton accepted Neill's proposal that she undertake investigations for the Bureau of Labor, launching a decade of cooperation in which she studied diseases and hazards associated with the lead, explosives, pottery, and dye industries.
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1 Alice Hamilton, Exploring the Dangerous Trades, An Autobiography of Alice Hamilton, M.D. (Boston, MA, Little, Brown & Co., 1943), p. 128.
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