(Extensions of Remarks - October 26, 2015)

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[Congressional Record Volume 161, Number 157 (Monday, October 26, 2015)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1535]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                         OCCUPATIONAL MEDICINE


                        HON. CAROLYN B. MALONEY

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                        Monday, October 26, 2015

  Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay 
tribute to Dr. Irving J. Selikoff (1915-1992), whose ground breaking 
work created the field of environmental and occupational medicine. Dr. 
Selikoff established the first hospital division of occupational and 
environmental medicine in the nation at Mount Sinai Hospital in New 
York City, developing clinical programs that have cared for thousands 
of workers impacted by occupational diseases. This month, Mount Sinai 
cut the ribbon on the Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health, named 
in his honor.
  Revered as the father of occupational health, Dr. Selikoff's research 
and tireless advocacy has saved millions of lives. In 1952, working 
with Dr. Edward H. Robitzek, he demonstrated that isonazaid was an 
effective treatment for tuberculosis. He subsequently opened a clinic 
for lung patients in Paterson, N.J., where he saw 17 workers from an 
asbestos plant with similar symptoms. Within a few years, 15 were dead, 
14 of them from lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma. This led him 
to begin investigating the cause of their illnesses. His research 
expanded and he began studying the health of other insulation workers, 
often collaborating with labor unions. Despite heavy resistance from 
the industry, he ultimately recruited 17,800 workers for a survey that 
documented widespread illness among those who had worked with asbestos. 
Even people who had been exposed for less than a week had lung scarring 
30 years later.
  Dr. Selikoff's research on asbestos disease and his expert testimony 
shaped public policy and improved working conditions for America's 
working men and women. Thanks to his careful research, the Occupational 
Safety and Health Administration imposed safeguards for workers 
starting in the 1970s. His work also prompted the Environmental 
Protection Administration to implement regulations regarding asbestos 
products; however, the United States remains one of the few developed 
nations that do not ban asbestos.
  Dr. Selikoff's tireless advocacy led to a fundamental understanding 
in this country that workers have the right to safe working conditions. 
Over the span of his 50-year career until his death in 1992, he taught 
two generations of physicians, published over 380 scientific works, and 
publicized the health risks associated with toxins found in everyday 
work environments. He wrote more than 350 scientific articles and two 
books, edited 11 books and founded two journals. In 1982 Dr. Selikoff, 
Cesare Maltoni and other eminent scientists founded the Collegium 
Ramazzini. Comprised of 180 internationally renowned experts in 
occupational and environmental health, the Collegium Ramazzini helps 
social and political leaders understand how scientific discoveries 
impact public health.
  Researchers at Mount Sinai and around the world continue his work and 
are leaders in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of workplace 
injuries and illnesses. After 9/11, when people who had worked at 
Ground Zero began to experience disproportionate levels of illness, 
Mount Sinai began to do research on the cause. Their work helped 
document the need for a program to provide care for people who had been 
made sick by the toxins released on 9/11. Mount Sinai was naturally 
selected as one of the Centers of Excellence to treat their illnesses 
under the direction of Dr. Philip J. Landrigan.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in applauding the 
extraordinary work and legacy of Dr. Irving J. Selikoff. His focus on 
the health impacts of workplace conditions has benefitted millions of 
American workers.