Work, Health and Environment Series Charles Levenstein and John Wooding, Series Editors
You can read the Foreword and the Preface for free right now, just click here.
IN PRAISE OF . . .
The Cotton Dust Papers made the top labor history book list! As compiled on H-Labor web site.
||The Cotton Dust Papers,
has been recognized by CHOICE, a publication of the Association of
College and Research Libraries, as an Outstanding Academic Title, 2003.
"In a word, this work is superb. The Cotton Dust Papers
makes a crucial, intellectual contribution: it is the first case study that
demonstrates the value of the theoretical framework developed by Levenstein and
Wooding and earlier by Levenstein and Tuminaro. It is fluently written,
impeccably argued and would stand on its own as a valuable case study even if
the larger theoretical work were not available. It is complete in itself."
—Eve Spangler, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Boston
"The Cotton Dust Papers is highly accessible
and surprisingly free of jargon. The analysis remains sophisticated and
comprehensive. Because the volume has a solid theoretical framework, yet is rich
in narrative and historical description, this work should have a wide appeal.
The topic is of definitive importance for those interested in labor history,
occupational/public health and safety, and social movements, and should appeal
to students and scholars, as well as health professionals and citizens."
—Daniel Faber, Ph.D., Director, Philanthropy and Environmental Justice Research Project, Northeastern University
"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. Labor scholars and readers interested in occupational health will appreciate
this conscientious account."
—Publishers Weekly, November 5, 2001
"This is an excellent historical review of the complexities facing a
'civilized' society trying to address a major health problem. The book should be useful for years to come as the process of finally
addressing the 'brown lung' disease can be applied to many of our current health problems,
especially those found in the workplace. I have not read a book related to this subject but my education and professional experience has exposed me to many facets of the problem. I congratulate the authors for their research. Many healthcare professionals would benefit from reading this as I
consider the information timeless."
—Marilyn A Lavelle, MS, Science , BSN, Nursing (Eastern Maine Technical College)
"I first picked up a copy of The Cotton Dust Papers with the simple
idea that I would learn something new about potential hazards associated with
inhalation of bioaerosols. What I didn't bargain on was becoming enthralled with
a historic account of occupational hazards and the socioeconomic forces that
helped drive the industrial hygiene industry and, to a large extent, shaped the
field of occupational health and safety.
This is a well-written documentary of the problems faced by industrial
hygienists and occupational health and safety professionals and is a worthy
contribution to the Work, Health and Environment series edited by
Levenstein and Wooding."
—Sean P. Abbott, Ph.D., The Synergist, August 2003
"It is an inspiring book for health professionals and policy makers who are also struggling for the
occupational health and rights for workers."
—Development, 2004, 47(2), Society for International Development
ABOUT THE BOOK
In June 1978, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of
the U.S. Department of Labor promulgated a cotton dust standard (43 FR 27351) to protect cotton textile workers from the respiratory disease
byssinosis (or “brown lung”). At that time, OSHA suggested that at least 35,000 workers suffered from the disease and another
100,000 were at risk due to exposure to cotton dust. The Centers for Disease Control
conservatively estimates that 183 workers died from byssinosis between 1979-1992. These figures, of course, do not include the generations that
fell victim to brown lung before 1978.
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. Yet this story also shows how a progressive coalition of labor and other forces can cause an industry to
break ranks and finally acknowledge the existence of an occupational disease. The Cotton Dust Papers is thus a cautionary tale of how social
arrangements can either perpetuate or help to overcome human suffering. A fascinating and accessible piece of historical detective work,
The Cotton Dust Papers offers lessons about the pursuit of occupational health that
remain relevant and important today.
Intended Audience: occupational safety and health professionals and students; public health professionals and students; physicians and medical
students with an interest in occupational medicine; political scientists, sociologists, and other social scientists with an interest in
environmental and health and safety issues; labor activists and historians; professionals
and students of U.S. history; and the informed general reader.