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science of preserving and promoting the health of both the individual and the community. It has many aspects: personal hygiene (proper living habits, cleanliness of body and clothing, healthful diet, a balanced regimen of rest and exercise); domestic hygiene (sanitary preparation of food, cleanliness, and ventilation of the home); public hygiene (supervision of water and food supply, containment of communicable disease, disposal of garbage and sewage, control of air and water pollution); industrial hygiene (measures that minimize occupational disease and accident); and mental hygiene (recognition of mental and emotional factors in healthful living). The World Health Organization promotes hygienic practices on an international level.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the science of health; a branch of medicine that studies the influence of various factors of the external environment (natural and everyday-life conditions, social and industrial relations) on the health, efficiency, and longevity of human beings.

Hygiene is closely linked with all medical sciences and also with biology, physics, chemistry, and social and economic sciences. The tasks of hygiene include providing a scientific basis for preventive and current sanitary inspection; providing a basis for measures for improving the sanitary conditions of populated areas, places of work, and recreational facilities; protecting the health of children and adolescents; drafting legislation on sanitation; and providing sanitary certification of the quality of food products and objects of everyday use. One of the most important tasks of contemporary hygiene is working out hygienic standards for the air in populated areas and industrial enterprises, as well as for water, food products, and materials from which clothing and footwear are manufactured. This is done in order to create more favorable conditions for safeguarding health and preventing disease and to ensure high efficiency and increased longevity. The practical field of applying hygiene constitutes a special division, that of sanitation.

Research in the field of hygiene employs physicochemical methods of studying the external environment (air, water, soil, food products, building materials, articles of clothing, and footwear); bacteriological, biochemical, and clinical methods; and demographic research methods, including the use of medical statistics.

Hygiene is one of the most ancient sciences. Elements of sanitary rules may be found in the historical documents of ancient slaveholding governments. Sanitary instructions are known to have been part of the code of laws of ancient India; they pointed out the necessity for changing underwear and clothing and of caring for skin and teeth, recommended vegetarian food, and prohibited excessive eating. In ancient Egypt, in 1500 B.C., measures were taken to improve sanitary conditions in populated areas. In the Judaic Law of Moses there were hygienic rules dealing with all aspects of the private and social life of the Hebrews. In ancient Chorasmia there were large cities that were well built from a sanitary point of view. Ancient Rome had aqueducts, a sewer system, and the famous Roman thermae (bathhouses). In Novgorod the remnants of a municipal water supply system (11th century) built of wooden pipes have been discovered. There were water conduits in the Solovetskii Monastery, St. Sergius Trinity Monastery (16th century), and the Kievopecherskaia Laura (monastery). A gravity water system of lead pipes was built in Moscow in 1631. Commercial baths (that is, baths for public use) were built in many Russian cities. The Domostroi (16th century) talks about storing cooked food, dishwashing, and laundering and changing underwear.

In the 16th and 17th centuries books of home cures containing advice on hygiene appeared. In 1700 there appeared the treatise by the Italian scientist B. Ramazzini, Discourse on the Diseases of Artisans, the first scientific work on occupational hygiene. In the classic work by the German scientist J. P. Frank, A System of Medical Police (1779-1827), the social significance of health was discussed. Macrobiotics (the art of prolonging life), a work written by the German physician C. W. Hufeland, appeared in 1797.

In Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries, problems of hygiene were dealt with in the works of M. V. Lomonosov, and also in those of the physicians S. G. Zybelin, D. S. Samoilovich, and M. la. Mudrov. M. V. Lomonosov’s work First Fundamentals of Metallurgy or Mining (1763) gives many instructions that are directed toward safeguarding the health of miners and presents a theory of air movement in mines, which became the basis for calculating natural ventilation.

By the middle of the 19th century, the attention of hygienists was directed mainly toward public health. Experimental methods of research in hygiene were developed to a considerable degree from the second half of the 19th century, as progress was made in natural science and medicine. The experimental trend in hygiene is linked to the works of the German hygienist M. von Pettenkofer. He founded the German school of hygienists from which came such scientists as M. Rubner, K. Flügge, and W. Prausnitz. In England the new trend in the development of hygiene found expression in the works of E. Parkes; in France, in the works of Z. Fleury, A. Proust, and A. Bouchardt. The development of experimental hygiene in Russia is connected with the names of A. P. Dobroslavin and F. F. Erisman, who laid the basis in Russia for the development of general, residential, and school hygiene and of occupational and nutritional hygiene. While it developed with as much intensity as that of the Western European nations, hygiene science in Russia had its own particular characteristics. Russian hygienists of the 19th century widely used medical-statistical methods of research. Erisman and the Moscow zemstvo (district and provincial assemblies) sanitary inspectors E. A. Osipov, P. I. Kurkin, and S. M. Bogoslovskii created the Russian school of studying physical states and morbidity on the basis of recording and evaluating demographic data (birthrate, mortality and natural population growth, morbidity and physical development, and sanitary-topographic data) from a hygienic viewpoint. In the 19th century a pleiad of noted men of hygiene came to the fore, including I. I Molleson, E. M. Dement’ev, D. N. Zhbankov, A. V. Pogozhev, P. A. Peskov, and N. I. Teziakov. Others who played important roles in the development of hygiene were G. V. Khlopin, who gave great attention to the methodology of hygiene research, and A. N. Sysin, who elaborated many problems of general and community hygiene. In the 18th through 20th centuries the majority of cities in Europe and Asia were in an insanitary condition. The situation in Russia changed radically only after the Great October Socialist Revolution.

In the USSR hygiene developed in accordance with the demands of the Program of the RCP (Bolshevik), adopted in 1919 at the Eighth Congress of the party. The program gave special emphasis to the prophylactic tasks of Soviet public health and determined the content and direction of the activities of the hygiene agencies of the nation and of the work of scientific research institutions. Basic to the scientific and practical work of Soviet hygienists is providing a scientific basis for the biological optimum to which the external environment must conform in order to ensure the normal development, good health, high efficiency, and longevity of human beings. In order to solve these problems, experimental research is conducted in laboratories and under natural conditions, under industrial conditions and in everyday life situations. In the USSR hygiene measures are included in plans for industrial, agricultural, residential, and cultural construction.

The broadening of the problems that face hygiene and the growing complexity of the methods of hygiene research have led to differentiation in hygiene science. At first, military and naval hygiene developed and became separate and independent scientific disciplines. The first works on military hygiene in Russia were published at the end of the 17th century. D. P. Sinopeus and A. G. Bakherakht made important contributions to the development of naval hygiene. Labor hygiene, or occupational hygiene, became an independent branch of hygiene science in the second half of the 19th century. Its development in Russia is connected with the names of Erisman, Pogozhev, Dement’ev, and other men of factory and zemstvo medicine. Important contributions to the development of occupational hygiene in the USSR were made by S. I. Kaplun, V. A. Levitskii, A. A. Letavet, Z. I. Izrael’-son, and L. K. Khotsianov. In the postrevolutionary years, school hygiene evolved into a scientific discipline, and in the process of further development it became childhood and adolescent hygiene. A. V. Mol’kov, the Soviet hygienist and hygiene activist, contributed greatly to the development of this discipline. The Institute of Social Hygiene, which was organized in 1919, was the first scientific research center on school hygiene. In 1926 the subdepartment of school hygiene was established at the medical department of the First Moscow State University, and in 1934 at the Central Institute for the Advanced Training of Physicians. Community hygiene developed thanks to the work of A. N. Sysin and A. N. Marzeev; it became an independent discipline in 1933, when a subdepartment of community hygiene was created at the First Moscow Medical Institute (I. R. Khetsrov and S. N. Cherkinskii). Nutritional hygiene as a subject of scientific research was established in 1922 with the creation in that year of the Institute of Nutrition, the first in the USSR, under the leadership of M. N. Shaternikov. The first subdepartment of nutritional hygiene at the hygiene department of the First Moscow Medical Institute was organized in 1932. Social hygiene developed in the USSR after the Great October Socialist Revolution. The founder and leader of many years’ standing of the first subdepartment of social hygiene in the USSR was N. A. Semashko. In 1944 the Institute for the Organization of Public Health and Social Hygiene (now the N. A. Semashko All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Social Hygiene and the Organization of Public Health) was created in association with the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR. As the use of sources of ionizing radiation in industry, agriculture, and medicine continued to grow, a new problem arose—providing radiation protection for workers and radiation safety for the population. Radiation hygiene is concerned with the elaboration of these problems.

Scientific solutions of various hygiene problems in the USSR have been worked out by institutes of occupational hygiene, institutes of community hygiene, and nutrition institutes. The oldest scientific research institution in the nation is the Moscow F. F. Erisman Scientific Research Institute of Hygiene, created in 1927. Scientific research in hygiene is also conducted at the hygiene departments of medical institutes and of institutes for the advanced training of doctors.

An important role in the development of hygiene is played by the All-Union Scientific Society of Hygienists, whose predecessor was the Russian Society for the Preservation of National Health (1877-1917). The Moscow Society of Hygienists was founded by F. F. Erisman in 1892. In 1925 the All-Union Society of Social and Experimental Hygiene was created. In 1967 the Society of Hygienists numbered 11,000 members. There are national hygiene societies in France, Great Britain, the German Democratic Republic, and other countries.

In the USSR problems of hygiene are treated in such journals as Gigiena i sanitariia (Hygiene and Sanitation, 1936—), Gigiena truda i professional’nye zabolevaniia (Occupational Hygiene and Occupational Diseases, 1957—), Voprosy pitaniia (Problems of Nutrition, 1932—), and Sovetskoe zdravookhranenie (Soviet Public Health, 1942—).


Dobroslavin, A. P. Gigiena: Kurs obshchestvennogo zdravookhraneniia, vols. 1-2. St. Petersburg, 1882-84.
Erisman, F. F. Kurs gigieny, vols. 1-3. Moscow, 1877-88.
Khlopin, G. V. Osnovy gigieny, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1921-23.
50 let sovetskogo zdravookhraneniia. Moscow, 1967. (Collection of articles.)
Handbuch der Hygiene, vols. 1-5. Leipzig, 1911-23.
Horn, K. Allgemeine und kommunale Hygiene. Berlin [1966].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The science that deals with the principles and practices of good health.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. the science concerned with the maintenance of health
2. clean or healthy practices or thinking
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Therefore, conclusions cannot be made about the impact of different hand hygiene techniques on the transmission of pathogens.
A number of published studies show that absenteeism can be reduced by 5-10% by placing more emphasis on hand hygiene in a school through things like education programs on hand hygiene and encouraging the use of alcohol based hand rub (ABHR) (Azor-Martinez, 2014.) One recent study, in Spain at five state schools, had students either wash their hands using soap and water, or wash their hands followed by using ABHR.
Globally, this survey will allow WHO to provide a situational analysis on the level of progress of current IPC and hand hygiene activities around the world and inform future efforts and resource use for IPC capacity building and improvement.
WHY: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that: "Hand hygiene is the most important measure to prevent the spread of infections among patients and dental healthcare personnel (DHCP)".1 Every time one touches a surface, microbes are transferred to the hands, and then these transient microbes (paramount in causing infections) are deposited on subsequent surfaces touched.
We obtained permission to use it via email before commencement of our study.12 In each section, questions were asked regarding how much training the student received regarding each specific component of ICMs in the last year, if they felt a need for more training, questions to test their knowledge and self-reported practices regarding how and when to perform hand hygiene and surgical scrubbing, what to do in case of an NSI and which scenarios warranted the use of gloves, goggles and other aspects of UPs.
On average, healthcare workers perform hand hygiene less than half of the time when they should (CDC, 2018a).
Good hygiene, especially hand hygiene, is very much linked to better health outcomes.
The causes of non-compliance with hand hygiene were investigated in several studies; lack of soap, paper towels, hand washing materials, accessible alcohol-based hand rubs and sinks that are inconveniently located or shortage of sinks were the most common reasons [2,4-6,13].
Yet good hand hygiene, the simple task of cleaning hands at the right time and in the right way, can reduce HCAIs that are transmitted by healthcare workers' hands which become progressively colonized by germs and potential pathogens during patient care [4].
World Hand Hygiene Day, observed every 5 May, is a global campaign declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote good hand hygiene practices among individuals working in healthcare.
These reported improvements in hand hygiene are impressive however, this is still under the 90+ percent compliance rate that the Joint Commission strives for and is unacceptable during a survey when 100 percent compliance is required.