October 26th 2013
The Collegium Ramazzini and the Town of Carpi are proud to recognize JOHN R. FROINES as Ramazzini Award recipient and Ramazzini Lecturer for 2013 for his outstanding career in occupational and environmental health research and advocacy, especially his pioneering work to develop the federal occupational lead and cotton dust exposure standards in the United States and his work in California that led to the recognition of diesel exhaust as a significant toxic air contaminant, preserving the health and the lives of millions.
Dr. John Froines has led a remarkable 45-year career. He is a scientist, a teacher, a public servant and a leader. John Froines has translated his research to inform policy in both occupational medicine and in environmental health, thus embodying and extending the indomitable legacy of Bernardino Ramazzini.
John Froines established his scientific credentials with an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in physical-organic chemistry from Yale. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Nobel Laureate Sir George Porter at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Throughout the 1960's John was involved in social justice issues including civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was one of the Chicago 7, a trial of a generation which became widely recognized.
John combined his passions for social justice and for science by pursuing a career in occupational and environmental health. As Director of the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Program he developed effective regulatory standards for the state's nuclear power plant. He also established an occupational safety and health regulatory program and defended it against federal efforts to weaken state enforcement. Under the leadership of Dr. Eula Bingham, John joined the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1977 as Director of its Office for Toxic Substances Standards. There he developed the lead and cotton dust standards, two of most comprehensive occupational health standards ever crafted. He then served as the Deputy Director of the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
In 1980 UCLA's School of Public Health recruited John to their faculty, where he chaired the School of Public Health's Department of Environmental Health Sciences and directed the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. During this time John always kept the policy applications of science in sight. He led an evaluation of MTBE use in gasoline in California that played a critical role nationally in phasing out this chemical. His work on fire stations became a key evidence-based document in government advisories on fire station design. Since 1999, Dr. Froines has focused on air pollution and conducted research on the mechanisms of pollution's health effects. As chair of the California State Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants, he was a key player regulating diesel as a human lung carcinogen. He also led a committee to review the state's risk assessment for methyl iodide which led to its removal from the entire US market.
In 2011 the California Air Resources Board honored John Froines as an "outstanding individual who has made significant contributions toward improving air quality through his lifetime of commitment, perseverance, leadership, and innovation in research and environmental policy." In 2012, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles chapter recognized his "courageous commitment to scientific integrity and to increasing understanding of the impacts of toxic chemicals on the health of workers and communities."
John Froines' extraordinary public health accomplishments - which continue to this day - have never before been recognized with an international award. It is the great privilege of the Collegium Ramazzini to be the first to bestow this well-deserved honor upon our friend, colleague and public health hero.
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