Episode 699: J. Thomas Pierce, MBBS, PhD - Connecting with People about Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety

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Episode 699: J. Thomas Pierce, MBBS, PhD - Connecting with People about Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety

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Show Resources: Show Discussion:

12:05:01 From Don Weekes : Missouri
12:05:16 From Radio Joe : correct don
12:28:59 From Jonathan Faith : Bob(maine) - Would Dr. Pierce offer an opinion as to why the number of people accessing (reading?) the AIHA/ACGIH “Applied Journal” on a monthly basis is in the 100’s vs. (when I received the [paper] version), the equivalent of the AIHA & ACGIH membership, 10,000-20,000?
12:41:54 From Bob (Maine) to Jonathan Faith(Direct Message) : Thank you...Unfortunately, I didn't hear his response. I'll go to the recording and re-listen.
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Re: Episode 699: J. Thomas Pierce, MBBS, PhD - Connecting with People about Occupational and Environmental Health and Sa

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I have met a lot of wonderful, impactful people over the past 17 years on the show. I will never forget Dr. Pierce and his contritbutions to OEHS and people in general. From working in Africa as a physician to pioneering work in industrial hygiene he is a great example of someone that has used his talents to help his fellow man. An inspiration.
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Re: Episode 699: J. Thomas Pierce, MBBS, PhD - Connecting with People about Occupational and Environmental Health and Sa

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This week we welcomed Dr. J. Thomas Pierce to talk about his fascinating background and how we can better connect with people about OEHS. Dr. Pierce has been working in the occupational safety and health arena for half a century and his unique background in medicine, laboratories and the field gives him a unique and rare perspective. Dr. Pierce has worked and practiced on 4 continents. Some may know him from his long running Action Level column in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health or his more recent work writing books that describe OEHS work through his characters.
Nuggets mined from today’s episode:
What is the MBBS designation? An MD-equivalent degrees given by medical schools that follow the United Kingdom medical education system. The acronym are derived from Latin and mean “bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery.
What piqued your interest in OEHS? Dr. Pierce grew up in S.E, Kansas. He initially became interested in OEHS through chemistry. His chemistry professors allowed him to run the lab stock room, do lab prep and supervise other students. He began to wonder the chemicals that he and other students were working with.
While environmental health and safety programs at some colleges and universities have declined how has the University of Oklahoma’s Public Health School fared? Due to Oklahoma’s Native American population, the school has been able to sway funding. Higher education has rebranded in order to obtain funding. Interest in Global Health and Big Data is larger while interest in Environmental Health and sub specialties is smaller.
Two Mid 20th Century leaders in industrial health and hygiene? The US prevailed in WWII which resulted in a large and growing synthetic chemical industry which had some nagging problems.
“Dr. Alice Hamilton helped make the American workplace less dangerous. In her quest to uncover industrial toxins, Hamilton roamed the more dangerous parts of urban America, descended into mines, and finagled her way into factories reluctant to admit her. Hamilton was a pioneer who became a leading expert in chemical health and safety.” www.acs.org
Dr. Carey Pratt McCord, was a great storyteller who though his book “Blind Hogs Acorn-Vignettes of the Maladies of Workers raised awareness and educated about industrial hygiene and occupational safety. The title came from a childhood visit to a phrenologist; who didn’t think Carey was very intelligent and mentioned that even a blind hog could find acorns sometimes.
Phrenology is a pseudoscience that involves the measurement of bumps on the skull to predict mental traits. It is based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules. Wikipedia
He published 20 books and 3,000 articles and made a case for OEHS.
Tell us about your books? Inspired by Carey Pratt McCord’s narrative storytelling, Dr. Pierce has written books of his own.
Million Dollar Speedway tells the story of an abandoned wooden racetrack. Free lumber, , geology, rivers, lead, railroad weed spraying and history, 1970-era environmental concerns, environmental and social justice, regulatory initiation and reform, urban development, industrial neighborhoods, blue collar culture. Issuu.com
One Hundred-Foot Drop is a scientific or medical narrative surrounding the lives of a World War II WASP aviator from northwest Alabama. Its narratives and dialogues support a scientifically-based description of critical environmental and lifestyle events that affect the lives of residents of the Tennessee Valley and beyond. Issuu.com
Is spot testing relevant? Dr. Pierce’s PhD thesis was titled “Industrial Hygiene in College Chemistry Laboratory and included a number of spot tests for: lead, mercury and antimony that he developed. The purpose of a spot test is to rule in or rule out. Contact with nickel is known to cause allergic dermatitis, he has developed a spot test for nickel. Spot testing id “doing for $5 prior to spending $5K”
Decimation of information? A Veterinary Toxicology Journal would pose questions and then answer them in the following issue. This inspired Dr Pierce, who in 2024, will celebrate his 40 year anniversary as columnist in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH).
In the 1970s-80s we used to read, save and archive journals; today people cherry pick their information. A study has found that 30%-40% of university students uses other schools’ information for their courses rather than their schools info.
Just another day at the office? Just another day at the office is how Dr. Pierce refers to his African medical experiences in South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe where he performed ward medicine treating AIDs and TB patients. Engaging nor remorseful.
Political activism. The credentials of well educated people may be considered irrelevant. Advocates must make their voices heard. In politics nothing happens automatically, it takes shoe leather. Influenced by Flint, Michigan’s water dilemma, Dr. Pierce’s group was able to quell opposition to proposed public health improvements and obtain $30 million in federal, state and local funds to improve filtration and replace water lines.
• Tetraethyllead, abbreviated TEL, is an organolead compound with the formula Pb₄. It is a fuel additive, first being mixed with gasoline beginning in the 1920s as a patented octane rating booster that allowed engine compression to be raised substantially. This in turn increased vehicle performance and fuel economy. Wikipedia The hazards of TEL were not well understood. As awareness of the hazards of lead have increased, lead exposure limits have been lowered.
• Living in urban areas near mills, factories and railroads enabled workers to walk to work.
• Dr. Pierce knows Northfolk/Southern safety people, East Palestine, OH was a perfect storm. Concerns include: hotbox sensors, precision scheduled railroading and length of trains.

• Caduceus- An insignia modeled on Hermes's staff and used as the symbol of the medical profession (wisdom).

• Dr. Pierce loves and is passionate about OEHS. It’s the perfect filed for people who like science, are interested in technology and want to help people.

• Dr. Alice Hamilton’s sister was Edith Hamilton, author of “Mythology succeeds like no other book in bringing to life for the modern reader the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths that are the keystone of Western culture--the stories of gods and heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiquity to the present. We meet the Greek gods on Olympus and Norse gods in Valhalla.” Goodreads.com

• Dr Pierce remains in regular contact with colleagues from back to high school.

• Citing the success of CSI TV series, the opportunity exists to use entertainment books and movies to connect the general public to OEHS by positively portrayal of federal employees.

• TIP: Use your phone to capture short OEH clips

• More OEH research money is needed, look for alternative research funding organizations. All of the following groups fund hydrogen sulfide research: NHLB, NIGMS. NINDS, NIEHS, NCI, NIAMS, NIOSH, NIA

• Everyone wants to lead research, Dr, Pierce recommends co-investigating or consulting on other’s research.

Contact: Dr Pierce at: tompks@mac.com to request a copy of his book.
Z-Man signing off

Trivia Question:
In 2021, what state had 3 out of the largest lead mines in the US?
Answer: SE Kansas and Missouri
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