History of Environmental Health Sciences

From its origins in sanitary science, the faculty, students, and alumni of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences have constantly been at the cutting edge of understanding how the environment impacts human health. Here are some highlights from our history, which spans more than 125 years:

  • 1887 With the introduction of sanitary science to its curriculum, U-M becomes one of the first universities in the United States to teach environmental health.
  • 1887 The University of Michigan is the site of the state of Michigan's first hygiene laboratory.
  • 1925 Henry F. Vaughan becomes president of the American Public Health Association, one of four department graduates to lead the organization.
  • 1938 Warren Cook, the first Industrial Hygiene professor at the University of Michigan, co-founds the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA); one of 13 AIHA presidents who have graduated or been associated with the department.
  • 1944 The National Sanitation Foundation (now NSF International) is founded at SPH as an independent, non-profit organization to set standards for the food service industry, Today, it certifies products and develops global standards for food, water, air and consumer goods.
  • 1970 Professor and department chair Morton Hilbert and Environmental Health Science students participate in the first environmental teach-ins, a central factor in developing what will become the Earth Day movement.
  • 2001 EHS alumnus John Henshaw becomes Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, the second EHS alumnus to direct OSHA (John Pendergrass is the first, 1988).
  • 2012 EHS celebrates its 125th anniversary.
  • 2016 SPH celebrates 75th year.