“The idea is that it’s a practical book, and people can use it in the field and in their office for the practice of occupational medicine and also for industrial hygiene,” said Harbison, professor of environmental and occupational health at USF, who produced the book’s fifth edition in 1998.
Along with Bourgeois and Johnson, Harbison worked to produce the sixth edition of the text, which was published in April.
While in the past it was only necessary for a new edition to be published every 10 years or so, the constantly changing science world means it’s now necessary to update as soon as every five years.
That’s not as easy as it might sound, though.
Bourgeois, a research assistant professor at the USF College of Public Health, shared that in this version, there are contributions from four different countries, 13 or more USF faculty, at least a dozen government institutions, seven colleges and more than 20 businesses.
With all those moving pieces, it took the team around three years to make this book a reality.
“It’s a little bit like herding cats,” said Bourgeois.
Getting everyone to agree and then actually complete his or her part was difficult with more than 150 writers involved.
“You think you’re done, and then there’s like five other things,” said Harbison.
This edition is crucial to the field, however, because Hamilton and Hardy’s Industrial Toxicology is a classic in toxicology. Unlike more obscure specialty books, this text is fundamental to the study of toxicology and occupational medicine.
“It gives a lot of visibility, recognition and scholarship attributed to the college as a result of the book,” said Harbison.
“The legacy of Hamilton and Hardy and having that associated with the college is very important,” added Johnson, a research assistant professor who also assisted with the new publication. “They were sentinel figures, I think, in early public health, especially in the emerging area of occupational health.”
When it comes to the enormous workload, the group agreed that the most challenging aspect was managing such a large collaborative effort. And even though the task was more demanding than they may have first envisioned, they unanimously agreed that they would absolutely do it again. While there’s no guarantee that they will be able to publish it again, they would definitely like to. Harbison says he’s even been watching the reviews on Amazon and is hopeful that they stay high.
One of the challenges that the group faced was extensive copyright laws that had to be worked through. Luckily, though, the publishing company, Wiley, was easy to work with and very understanding of how difficult it was to manage such a large group of people.
Not only is it great to have USF faculty involved with publishing such a valuable resource in the field, but it’s also great for USF students.
“It’s an excellent learning opportunity for the students that we can get involved,” Bourgeois said.
According to Bourgeois, there are 12 current and former graduate students with work published in this text.
The changes of the new edition include information about more specific things like certain mechanisms of action and allowable levels of toxic substances that don’t result in harm, along with including more information about broader topics like environmental exposures and ecological consequences. The book itself also expanded to roughly 1,350 pages, whereas the last previous edition totaled a mere 682.
Along with almost doubling in size, the new edition brought about the exciting creation of the Hamilton and Hardy Trust.
“None of the contributors took any money for their contributions,” said Bourgeois, which seems impressive for a text of this magnitude with so many people involved. This means that all royalties from the book will help sustain future editions of the Hamilton and Hardy text, Bourgeois said.
Despite its tedious nature, the team is proud of the work it has done and hopes to work on the next edition when the time comes.
“It was a labor of love,” Bourgeois said.
Story by Annamarie Koehler-Shepley, College of Public Health.