Thesis ID: CBB001562407

Pesticides and Toxicology: Episodes in the Evolution of Environmental Risk Assessment (1937--1997) (2001)


Davis, Frederick Rowe (Author)

Yale University
Holmes, Frederic Lawrence

Publication Date: 2001
Edition Details: Advisor: Holmes, Frederic Lawrence
Physical Details: 217 pp.
Language: English

{italic}Pesticides and Toxicology: Episodes in the Evolution of Environmental Risk Assessment{/italic} ({italic}1937-1997{/italic}) analyzes several key moments in the genesis of toxicology and environmental risk assessment and will contribute to a growing literature on the history of pesticides and their effects on landscapes, wildlife, and humans. This study places notions of the benefits and risks of pesticides in historical context. Specifically, I focus on the work of the Toxicity Laboratory at the University of Chicago and the Division of Pharmacology at the Food and Drug Administration in developing toxicological techniques and standards to evaluate and regulate the risks of synthetic pesticides. I trace the evolution of toxicological methods from pharmacology to their application to DDT during World War II to further research developments in response to organophosphate pesticides. This study delineates four specific episodes beginning with the Elixir Sulfanilamide tragedy of 1937, which inspired collaboration between federal officials and university researchers in devising toxicological methods to address a series of fatalities resulting from the toxic drug. Pharmacologists and toxicologists went on to use these methods during World War II in the evaluation of the toxicity of DDT to insects, laboratory animals, wildlife, and humans, the second episode. The next moment is the development of the University of Chicago Toxicity Laboratory under the direction of E. M. K. Geiling. During World War II, the "Tox Lab" trained and employed more than sixty researchers to evaluate the toxicity of thousands of chemicals and they developed numerous methods for toxicological analysis. The final episode reveals the work of Tox Lab researcher Kenneth DuBois and FDA regulator Arnold Lehman as well as other researchers who conducted toxicological evaluations of the organophosphate chemicals such as parathion and malathion. The Epilogue details the development of toxicology into an independent discipline and tracks organophosphate use and criticism from Silent Spring to the present. In the Conclusion, I relate these episodes to the evolution of environmental risk assessment, which has become the dominant paradigm in the analysis of environmental quality and health.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 62 (2002): 3542. UMI order no. 3030751.

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Authors & Contributors
Jasanoff, Sheila
Kay, Gwen E.
Zwanenberg, Patrick van
Millstone, Erik
Watkins, Elizabeth Siegel
Pauly, Philip J.
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Science, Technology and Human Values
Environmental History
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Pharmacy in History
Chemical Heritage
Oxford University Press
Princeton University Press
Rutgers University Press
University of California Press
New York, City University of
Harvard University
Insect control
Risk assessment
Legislative and administrative regulations
Remsen, Ira
Fahlberg, Constantin
Reed, Walter
Carson, Rachel Louise
Rasmussen, Wayne David
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, late
20th century, early
18th century
19th century
United States
Great Britain
California (U.S.)
Arkansas (U.S.)
United States. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA)
American Medical Association

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