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September 25, 1991

An Environmental Odyssey: People, Pollution, and Politics in the Life of a Practical Scientist

Author Affiliations

American Cancer Society Atlanta, Ga

American Cancer Society Atlanta, Ga

JAMA. 1991;266(12):1702. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470120104043

In the 1930s, occupational health work in the United States centered in insurance companies whose interests lay with reducing workers' compensation costs arising from industrial health hazards. As a young industrial hygienist working for such a company in New York, Merril Eisenbud began his career in environmental health. None of the laws and agencies yet existed that are now in place to protect the environment and to govern the fields of environmental and occupational health. Our national awareness of the hazards associated with an expanding industrial society had yet to be aroused.

Now, more than 50 years later, Eisenbud has written this engaging autobiographical account, which not only traces the growth of one man's lifework but in the process also provides a vivid and personalized history of this country's efforts to cope with fast-changing and complicated needs in environmental health. As happens in many lives, his career, like Odysseus' travels,