Today in Hazmat History – July 5

Hazmat History

By Richard T. Cartwright, PE, CHMM, (IHMM, AHMP and APICS) Fellow

The saying, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” is more than a cliché. It is a reminder that we must constantly be learning from the past. Here’s a look back at major historical events that happened today in the world of hazardous materials.


July 5, 2003

The World Health Organization announced that all person-to-person transmission of Severe-Acute-Respiratory-Syndrome (SARS) had ceased. During the previous eight months, 775 people had died in 29 countries. The deadly disease outbreak exposed the dangers of globalization within the context of public health. Initial flu-like symptoms include high fever and dry cough. In some cases, headaches, diarrhea, stiffness, rash, confusion and loss of appetite occur. Difficulty breathing begins within 10 days after the infection. Scientists are not sure how it is transmitted, but believe that close contact with an infected person is required to contract the disease. The mortality rate is 10 percent.

July 5, 1972

The 5-year-long U.S. military cloud seeding operation designed to “make mud, not war” ended. During the Vietnam War, it was initiated to extend the monsoon season over Laos along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Silver iodide seeded clouds extended the monsoon season an average of 30 to 45 days. As the continuous rainfall slowed down truck traffic, it was considered relatively successful.

July 5, 1820

William Rankine, the Scottish engineer and physicist, was born. He helped develop the science of thermodynamics, which he applied to the steam-engine theory.

July 5, 1794

Sylvester Graham, an American physician, was born. He is best known as the inventor of the graham cracker. After a long illness, he became interested in human physiology and nutrition. He advocated the use of whole wheat bread, hard mattresses, open windows, fresh fruits and vegetables, pure drinking water and cheerfulness at meals.


Historical hazardous materials management events are posted 365 days a year at this LinkedIn discussion group.

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