Warren Cook Remembered

Warren Cook Remembered

At the 50th-anniversary celebration of the Warren Cook Industrial Hygiene Discussional, a focus on threats to the future of the U.S. workforce.

With his pathbreaking work on occupational exposures, the late Warren Cook (1900–1992) revolutionized the field of industrial hygiene. Each year, the U-M Center for Occupational Health & Safety Engineering joins forces with U-M SPH—where Cook served on the faculty from 1953 to 1970 as the school's first industrial hygiene professor—to honor his legacy through the Warren Cook Industrial Hygiene Discussional.

In his keynote address at last fall's 50th anniversary celebration of the discussional, John Howard, MD, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), emphasized the connections between worker health and economic health and highlighted some of the chief issues threatening the future of the U.S. workforce—including a reduction in the fraction of younger people entering the workforce and a reduction in their health status due to obesity-related diseases, asthma, and chronic obstructive lung disease.

As a staff member of the Travelers Insurance Company, Warren Cook launched the first industrial hygiene sampling and analysis program undertaken by a casualty insurance company. As early as 1926, he investigated the occupational health hazards of fireworks manufacturing—work that ultimately led fireworks manufacturers to ban the use of white phosphorus in their plants. Cook went on to help found the American Industrial Hygiene Association. The school's Warren A. Cook Award, given annually to a doctoral student, recognizes outstanding contributions to industrial hygiene research.