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September 13, 2016

‘100 Objects That Shaped Public Health’

From the obscure to the everyday, objects selected by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health tell the story of a century of public health

In recognition of its Centennial, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has compiled a list of 100 objects that tell some of the most compelling stories of public health over the last century and help us appreciate its vast reach.

Most people view a hot dog as another snack at the ballpark, a spittoon as an artifact in a museum and a horseshoe crab as a strange-looking creature that lingers along the shoreline. What many of us don’t realize is that each of these items has made its mark on public health.

Public health impacts all of us, in every corner of the globe, every day of our lives — not only our health and safety, but also how we live, what we wear, what we eat, what happens to our environment and the stewardship of our planet. For better or worse, the objects on the list have shaped public health across the globe. Some of the objects, such as vaccines, have helped keep us healthy. Others, including cigarettes, have made us sick. Some are surprising —  like hot dogs and horseshoe crabs — while others make perfect sense, like a bicycle helmet. Some are relics from the past, including spittoons, and some are products of our digital age, like the smartphone.

“We hope this list will help a broader audience better understand the important role public health plays in our everyday lives,” says Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH ’87, dean of the Bloomberg School. “It is because of public health that we have clean water to drink, safe food to eat and are protected from many deadly infectious diseases. This list, an important tool, also reminds us that we have a lot of work to do to address the many challenges that remain.”

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health invites the public to view the complete list of 100 objects on Global Health NOW, the Bloomberg School’s forum for global health news and information.

To see the complete list of “100 Objects that Shaped Public Health.”

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Media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Stephanie Desmon at 410-955-7619 or sdesmon1@jhu.edu and Barbara Benham 410-614-6029 or bbenham1@jhu.edu.