Cover image for The cotton dust papers : science, politics, and power in the "discovery" of Byssinosis in the U.S.
The cotton dust papers : science, politics, and power in the "discovery" of Byssinosis in the U.S.
Levenstein, Charles.
Publication Information:
Amityville, N.Y. : Baywood Pub. Co., [2002]

Physical Description:
xi, 160 pages : 1 illustrations ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
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Item Holds
RC775.B9 C685 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"The Cotton Dust Papers" is the story of the 50-year struggle for recognition in the U.S. of this pernicious occupational disease. The authors contend that byssinosis could have and should have been recognized much sooner, as a great deal was known about the disease as early as the 1930s. Using mostly primary sources, the authors explore three instances from the 1930s to the 1960s in which evidence suggested the existence of brown lung in the mills, yet nothing was done. What the story of byssinosis makes clear is that the economic and political power of private owners and managers can hinder and shape the work of health investigators.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Health officials as far back as the 1930s were aware of a sometimes deadly disease suffered by textile workers called "brown-lung," or byssinosis, that was caused by prolonged exposure to cotton dust. But it was not until 1978 that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) paid attention, estimating that 35,000 people had the disease and 100,000 more were at risk, and imposing a standard on textile factories to protect workers from contracting the disease. In The Cotton Dust Papers: Science, Politics, and Power in the "Discovery" of Byssinosis in the U.S., Charles Levenstein and Gregory F. DeLaurier, with Mary Lee Dunn, draw on many primary sources and other research to follow the disease's 50-year path from being ignored by officialdom to recognition as a high priority by OSHA. Labor scholars and readers interested in occupational health will appreciate this conscientious account. (Nov. 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Levenstein, DeLaurier, and Dunn (all, Univ. of Massachusetts, Lowell) present a detailed chronicle of the consequences of the social, political, scientific, and economic forces that supported and delayed recognition of byssinosis or "brown lung disease" as a preventable occupational disease. The authors propose that changes in workplace safety and health occur only when there is a convergence of social forces composed of labor, management, occupational health professionals, public health scientists, and regulators. Each chapter documents fascinating historical events that ultimately resulted in social change and the passage of the Cotton Dust Standard in 1976 by OSHA. This book provides a concise and comprehensive account of an American tragedy, recognition of an exposure in the workplace with heavy financial and human costs, but delay in acknowledgment and elimination of risk. Occupational health professionals, whose education is often lacking in the historical perspective of disease, would benefit from reading this book, which clearly documents the social, economic, and scientific history of byssinosis. Chapter summaries. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. S. T. Fitzgerald Johns Hopkins University

Table of Contents

William Mass and Charles Levenstein and Gregory F. DeLaurierCharles Levenstein and Susan Woskie
Forewordp. v
Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Chapter 1. By Any Other Name: Brown Lung and The Social Recognition of Diseasep. 1
Chapter 2. "Kiss of Death": Banning the Suction Shuttle in Massachusettsp. 15
Chapter 3. Textiles Move South, 1920-1940p. 29
Chapter 4. Cotton Colicp. 41
Chapter 5. The Harvard Cotton Dust Projectp. 53
Chapter 6. "We Were Running from It, Really": Workers' Compensation and Byssinosis, 1950-1968p. 73
Chapter 7. Georgia and the "Mysterious Disease" of Byssinosisp. 87
Chapter 8. Bouhuys' Diseasep. 99
Chapter 9. Brown Lung and the Dilemmas of a Novice Investigator, 1968-1969p. 109
Chapter 10. Full Circle: "Burlington's Disease"p. 121
Chapter 11. Brown Lung and the Lessons for Occupational Health and Safetyp. 139
Indexp. 151