Alice Hamilton: Founder of Occupational Medicine
Alice Hamilton, MD (February 27, 1869 - September 22, 1970) was the founder of occupational medicine. The first female faculty member at Harvard Medical School, Alice Hamilton was well known for her research in the field of industrial toxic substances. Hamilton helped advocate for fair worker's compensation laws and fought for workplace environments free of dangerous chemicals. While living in Chicago’s Hull House early in her career, she observed the consequences of worker exposure to lead and the symptom of wrist drop due to damage to the nervous system.
Toxic chemicals such as lead and pesticides easily travel from the workplace to the home on parents’ clothes and shoes, exposing children at home. Pregnant women can expose the developing fetus to workplace chemicals. Establishing and maintaining safe workplaces is a critical part of our efforts to protect children and families from toxic exposure.