The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is saddened by the passing of Dr Eula Bingham on 13 June 2020 at age 90.
Dr Bingham was a renowned United States researcher and policy expert on occupational health issues, including cancer. She was an early champion of the need to protect workers against occupational cancer hazards, especially those identified through her pioneering research on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) and coal tar exposures in coke ovens. In her work as a scientist, she strove to turn research into policy action, chairing governmental advisory committees on controlling exposures to occupational carcinogens and on coke oven emissions. She served as the United States Assistant Secretary of Labor (as head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) from 1977 to 1981, overseeing the promulgation of standards to protect workers against hazards from exposures to benzene, cotton dust, and lead, among other agents.
Dr Bingham contributed to the IARC Monographs programme her own substantial expertise on the carcinogenic hazards posed by complex mixtures of PAHs, serving on two seminal Monograph Working Groups. In 1984, she took part in Volume 34: “Polynuclear Aromatic Compounds, Part 3, Industrial Exposures in Aluminium Production, Coal Gasification, Coke Production, and Iron and Steel Founding”, which identified these complex exposures as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), and in 1985, she participated in Volume 35: “Polynuclear Aromatic Compounds, Part 4: Bitumens, Coal-tars and Derived Products, Shale-oils and Soots”, which identified the last three agents as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). In 1990, she chaired the Working Group for Volume 53, which evaluated the carcinogenicity of occupational pesticide spraying and 17 individual pesticides.
Dr Bingham’s scientific legacy, her passion for protecting worker safety and health through policy action, and her leadership example have served as inspiration to many at IARC, and we join the scientific and public health communities in mourning her loss while celebrating her many accomplishments.