The Chair of Industrial Health in Newcastle upon Tyne was first filled in March, 1946. For about the first 12 years diseases of coalminers posed the main clinical and research problems. They stimulated surveys of pneumoconiosis in the Durham and Northumberland coalfields and led to studies of ϰ-ray viewing techniques and of the relationship of radiological appearance to symptoms in dust disease of the chest. A section of medical statistics, now headed by a professor, was one of the earliest elements of the department to be inaugurated, and this was followed by a section of pulmonary physiology. The emphasis on industrial pulmonary disease, on which 14 papers have been published, has gradually widened and become transferred from coal to beryllium, asbestos, and antimony. Coalminers with nystagmus were shown to be socially similar to miners without the disease but psychologically less stable. They also suffered from a breakdown of their binocular vision. A darkness-induced nystagmus was experimentally produced in kittens, with increasing difficulty as they became older. Decompression sickness has become an important interest.
In the build-up of the department demands for occupational hygiene soon led to the formation of a section which started work on the decalcification of teeth by organic acids in a fruit salt factory. Lead poisoning in shipbreakers and smelters, and vanadium poisoning in fitters and gasmakers were studied jointly with clinicians. The thermal decomposition of protective coatings and welding rods has also attracted research, as also have the noise levels in a glassblowing school and in several power stations.
All medical, engineering, and public health undergraduates are taught by the department, and also the honours chemists. All medical undergraduates and honours engineers are examined in industrial health.
The departmental budget (including the field service) is about £54,000, and the department inhabits 12,660 sq. ft. of space.