American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM): a professional association in service to industry

Int J Occup Environ Health. 2007 Oct-Dec;13(4):404-26. doi: 10.1179/oeh.2007.13.4.404.


The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) is a professional association that represents the interests of its company-employed physician members. Fifty years ago the ACOEM began to assert itself in the legislative arena as an advocate of limited regulation and enforcement of occupational health and safety standards and laws, and environmental protection. Today the ACOEM provides a legitimizing professional association for company doctors, and continues to provide a vehicle to advance the agendas of their corporate sponsors. Company doctors in ACOEM recently blocked attempts to have the organization take a stand on global warming. Company doctors employed by the petrochemical industry even blocked the ACOEM from taking a position on particulate air pollution. Industry money and influence pervade every aspect of occupational and environmental medicine. The controlling influence of industry over the ACOEM physicians should cease. The conflict of interests inherent in the practice of occupational and environmental medicine is not resolved by the ineffectual efforts of the ACOEM to establish a pretentious code of conduct. The conflicted interests within the ACOEM have become too deeply embedded to be resolved by merely a self-governing code of conduct. The specialty practice of occupational and environmental medicine has the opportunity and obligation to join the public health movement. If it does, the ACOEM will have no further purpose as it exists, and specialists in occupational and environmental medicine will meet with and be represented by public health associations. This paper chronicles the history of occupational medicine and industry physicians as influenced and even controlled by corporate leaders.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Conflict of Interest*
  • Environmental Medicine / ethics*
  • Environmental Medicine / history
  • Environmental Medicine / organization & administration
  • Health Policy / history
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Industry*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Medicine / ethics*
  • Occupational Medicine / history
  • Occupational Medicine / organization & administration
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Public Health
  • Societies, Medical / ethics*
  • Societies, Medical / history
  • Societies, Medical / organization & administration
  • United States
  • Workers' Compensation / history