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Abel Wolman

WOLMAN, ABEL (1892–1989), U.S. sanitary engineer, pioneer in problems of environmental pollution. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Wolman became professor of sanitary engineering at his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, lecturing there from 1937 to 1957. Working in the field of water supply and sewage, Wolman did much toward maintaining proper sanitation throughout the United States. He was an early advocate of a national water policy, and as early as 1946 demanded that industry assume responsibility for alleviating pollution. He was consulted by the U.S. Public Health Service, the U.S. Departments of Defense, Agriculture, and the Interior, the Red Cross, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the American Railroad Association, and many municipalities. An authority on environmental sanitation at the UN, Wolman's expertise was sought in India, Ceylon, Taiwan, Argentina, Brazil, and the Arctic. He was chief consultant for Israel's Jordan River project and, from 1958, consultant for all water development in Israel. Disposal problems took on a new dimension with the worldwide proliferation of atomic activity, and Wolman was appointed by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to evaluate the dangers of cumulative radiation. In 1967 he became a consultant on biotechnology in the atmosphere for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Wolman served as president of the American Public Health Association and was editor of the Journal of Public Health. A prolific contributor to professional journals, he wrote on such diverse subjects as malaria, ice engineering and the legal aspects of water supply. Many of his articles are reprinted in Water, Health and Society: Selected Papers by Abel Wolman (G.F. White, ed., 1969). He was co-author of The Significance of Waterborne Typhoid Fever Outbreaks (1931), and was the editor of The Manual of Water Works Practice (1925). For a period of 60 years Wolman succeeded in focusing his attention on the total human environment, responding in both technological and human terms to the threats to the environment that result from technological progress.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.