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Worker health advocate Dr. Stephen Levin dies at 71

February 10, 2012
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In 1987, Mr. Levin became medical director of the Irving J. Selikoff Occupational and Environmental Medical Center. Working with Dr. Robin Herbert, the Occupational Health and Environmental Medical Center became a nationally recognized center for occupational medicine. Through their efforts, the Clinic became known as a worker/union friendly clinic in which doctors were seen as advocates - working with unions and COSH groups providing scientific and medical support for public policies which protected and advanced workers rights.

After 9/11 Mr. Levin mobilized the Clinic to address the needs of emergency responders and clean-up workers whose health was adversely affected by the contaminants which blanketed lower Manhattan. Through the work of the Clinic, under the direction of Steve and Robin, the problems workers faced as a result of exposure were documented and their work provided the scientific and medical justification for the passage of the Zadroga Act, which established a compensation fund for World Trade rescue, recovery and clean up workers, volunteers and area residents.

As a protégé of Doctor Irving Selikoff, Mr. Levin was one of the nation's leading experts on asbestos disease. In the last years of his life, he devoted considerable time and effort to working on providing medical care for the workers and residents of Libby, Montana who were callously and unwittingly exposed to asbestos by W.R.Grace Corporation.

  Mr. Levin was an early and active member of NYCOSH, serving for many years in the early 1980s on its health technical committee. He participated in and spoke at numerous NYCOSH conferences on Workers' Compensation and occupational diseases. According to a NYCOSH statement, “He was a passionate speaker and teacher helping us understand the societal costs of occupational disease.  He was an advocate for the prevention of occupational disease and the public's health.

“We were honored to have known Steve; to have been able to call him a friend. We will miss his impact in the fight for safer workplaces, but will also miss his counsel, his wonderful sense of humor, his ability to work with people from different backgrounds -- hospital administrators, union officials, rank and file workers and community residents -- to build .

“His passing is a painful loss. He will be greatly missed. We express our condolences to his family.”

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