Public Health and Safety
With the Industrial Revolution and the associated rapid growth of U.S. cities came a whole host of threats to public health, from unsafe water to the spread of infectious diseases. Beginning in the 19th century and still today scientists, including chemists, fight to protect the public from a variety of health concerns.
In post–Civil War America, Charles Chandler was already crusading for measures to protect the public’s health.
The most prominent female American chemist of the 19th century, Ellen H. Richards was a pioneer in public health and a founder of home economics in the United States.
Alice Hamilton identified many workplace hazards in the early stages of industrial development in the United States. She also promoted “industrial medicine” and laws that protect employees from dangerous substances in the workplace.
In the 1940s Clifford and Kathryn Hach launched the Hach Chemical Company, which became a leading producer of water-testing reagents and instruments. Hach Chemical ensured that clean water flows from household taps and everywhere that water quality is an issue.
Catalyst Series: Women in Chemistry
Follow the adventures of eight leading women in chemistry and celebrate their life-changing, chance-taking, thrill-seeking love of science.
Hear It Firsthand
The Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields, with over 425 oral histories that deal with various aspects of science, of scientists, and of scientific practices. For more information please visit CHF’s Oral History Program or e-mail oralhistory@
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Historically Grounded Perspectives
|The Center for Contemporary History and Policy explores issues ranging from energy to medicine on CHF's blog, Periodic Tabloid.