Physicians who practice environmental medicine seek to identify and to prevent patient and population exposures that cause adverse human health outcomes. Epidemiologic, toxicologic, clinical, and public health skills essential to this enterprise are indistinguishable from those of the occupational physician. Several important controversies illustrate the essential role of occupational physicians in environmental health science and policy, including environmental asbestos, dioxin, electromagnetic fields, and carcinogenicity testing. Our continuing involvement in “environmental” issues is predicted by three conditions, each unlikely to change. The human remains the animal of greatest interest; the “natural” experiment will have been performed (however unwittingly); and the work site will continue to provide that first and clearest setting for measuring the outcome. Therefore, residency training must be expanded so that future occupational and environmental physicians will recognize their fundamental role in environmental health. The results of our industry cross factory walls with ease. So must our efforts.
©1993 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine