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Paul Mushak

Posted By Hall-Wynne On February 4, 2016 @ 1:34 pm In Durham,News,Obituaries | 23 Comments

Paul Mushak, 80, died suddenly Feb. 2, 2016. He was an internationally known expert in the toxic metals that are human health hazards, with a focus on lead, and was a fierce advocate of justice for all.
Surviving are his wife, Betty Mushak, two brothers, Michael Mushak of New Jersey and Peter Mashok of Pennsylvania, three sisters-in-law, Marge Mushak, Mary Elizabeth Mashok, and Virginia Mushak,11 nieces and nephews, 13 great nieces and nephews, 7 great-great nephews and one great-great niece. He was a native of Pennsylvania and was the son of the late Stefan and Mary L. Mushak. He was a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton and earned his Ph.D. in metalloorganic/organic chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Florida. He did his postdoctoral work as a fellow in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry in the School of Medicine at Yale University.
He was a recognized Oriental rugs and textiles scholar, specializing in natural dyes, and was the author of a number of publications on the topic.
Dr. Mushak was on the faculty of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in the Department of Pathology from 1971 to 1985 and was an adjunct professor from 1985 to 1993. From 1995 to 2010, he was a member of the Montefiore Medical Center-Second Medical University of Shanghai, China Collaborating Centers for Prevention of Childhood Lead Poisoning and a visiting professor of Pediatric Environmental Health, Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY. From 1992 until his death, he was a co-principal in PB Associates, a toxicology consulting firm.
He authored or co-authored more than 200 articles, abstracts, and public health documents and authored a book, Lead and Public Health. Science, Risk and Regulation. He served on three committees of the National Academy of Sciences and four committees of the World Health Organization. He served on the North Carolina Child Lead Poisoning Advisory Committee, and a number of committees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, and Health Canada. He also consulted in various roles for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Ontario, Canada, Ministry of the Environment. He provided expert services to the U.S. Department of Justice in a number of Superfund cases and testified twice before Congress on lead hazards. He was included in Who’s Who in American Science and Engineering, Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World.
In Durham, he was a co-founder of the Trinity Heights Neighborhood Association and served a term on the Durham County Environmental Affairs Board.
A memorial service will be held Friday, March 4, at 11 a.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 83 Kimberly Drive,
. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Childhood Lead Action Project, 1192 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02909 and to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Arrangements for the Mushak family are under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Online condolences www.hallwynne.com, select obituaries.

Condolences for the family of “Paul Mushak”

Condolence from David Rosner on February 4th, 2016 11:12 pm

Dear Betty,
Paul was a hero to so many of us. I personally will always smile when I think of his brilliance , thoughtfulness and generosity. It was a true honor to know him. People, particularly children, around this country owe him so much.
My love to you,
David Rosner

Condolence from Helen La Rosa (Tasmania Australia) on February 5th, 2016 3:44 am

Betty it was sad to hear the news of Paul’s passing. I will always remember how both of you welcomed me into your home when Roxanne and I stay with you on our trip to Indian Head when I came over for a visit in Jan 2013.

Condolence from Beth Bridges on February 5th, 2016 4:43 am

Dear Betty,
So sad to hear that Paul’s gone! We are all thinking of you and hope You are surrounded by friends there.
Our love to you!
Beth , Scott & kids (Jean & Porter’s family)

Condolence from Richard Lewis on February 5th, 2016 10:09 am

Betty , I am sorry for your loss. Working with Paul over the years on lead issues was a privilege and a pleasure . His integrity and passion were unmatched. Sincerely , Rich

Condolence from Mona and Len Gauthier on February 5th, 2016 10:51 am

Dear Betty and family of Paul.

Our hearts go out to you during your time of mourning for Paul. He left rather abruptly and this is very difficult to accept. You know he’s in good hands so now comes the rejoicing my friend!

Condolence from David Bellinger on February 5th, 2016 3:48 pm

Betty, Julia and I were so sad to hear of Paul’s passing. He was a remarkable man, someone I admired greatly for his scientific rigor, encyclopedic knowledge, but perhaps most of all for his sense of social justice and his intolerance of injustice. He played such a major role in advocating policy changes to reduce childhood lead exposure that to say that he changed the world is merely the simple truth. He is a wonderful role model for all who try to follow in his path. Our thoughts are with you.

David and Julia

Condolence from john thomas on February 5th, 2016 5:58 pm

My deepest sympathy. I read his bio. very interesting life he led. Please call me at your convenience @803-322-2605.

Love always


Condolence from Myra Karstadt on February 6th, 2016 11:49 am

Dear Betty,

My sincere condolences on Paul’s death.

I so much admired the things you and Paul did together- enjoying the natural world through travel local and far from Durham, constantly improving and maintaining your very nice house and land, caring about the country through political awareness and activity, and being conscientious about and kind to your family and friends.

Condolence from Duncan Heron on February 6th, 2016 2:29 pm

Betty: so sorry to hear the sad news. I know your pain.

Condolence from E Jean Walker on February 6th, 2016 5:52 pm

Dear Betty, Carol and I were saddened by the news of Paul,s death. We were never able to meet him, but have been so happy to reconnect with you over the past few years and to learn of your happy marriage wth him. Our love and prayers are with you and yours in these days of loss and sorrow. Comfort yourself with fond memories and celebration of his life. Jean and Carol.

Condolence from Jennifer Eileen Mushok Seal on February 6th, 2016 7:16 pm

Very sorry for your loss. Prayers lifted up!

Condolence from Joyce Bumann on February 7th, 2016 3:33 pm

Dear Betty and family of Paul Mushak,

Last night I read in the N&O of Paul’s sudden passing. My sincere condolences to you, his family members, and many friends. Of course, I know you best, Betty, since we met shortly after I came to Durham in 1972. However, I know you and Paul shared many of the same sterling qualities. You both love family, friends, good food, truth, are thoughtful and are always willing to take positive action to help others.

You and your family members will remain in my thoughts and prayers. I’ll be in touch.

After 9/11, I remember reading that Queen Elizabeth wrote expressing her sympathy to President Bush and the American people. In her letter was this statement: ” Grief is the price we pay for loving.”

How quickly these words get to the heart of the matter. Let your family, friends, and faith help guide you through this sudden loss to the peace that does pass our understanding. I know how difficult it is when there is no time to talk with a loved one and that’s often how wonderful memories help see us through.

Much affection, Joyce Bumann

Condolence from Gretchen Cooley on February 8th, 2016 9:33 am

Dear Betty,
You and Paul didn’t just talk the talk — you walked the walk and you could always be counted on to do the right thing. I’m very sorry for your sudden loss and I extend my sincere sympathy. I wish for you whatever soothes your spirit, comforts your soul and brings you peace. Take care of yourself.
With sincere admiration,
Gretchen Cooley

Condolence from Rob Hanson on February 8th, 2016 6:35 pm

Paul’s professional influence reached all over the world including the Bunker Hill Superfund Site in Idaho. He was a pleasure to work with and his depth of knowledge and passion for addressing the challenge of protecting children from lead poisoning was so very evident. Paul’s passing is a painful loss for those who love him, but also a loss to the scientific community and in my case the regulatory community.

Condolence from Anne & Harrell Tice on February 10th, 2016 8:28 pm

We are so very sorry for your loss. I hope that the love of you family and friends support you with comfort and fill you with strength.
Anne and Harrell

Condolence from Denny Dobbin on February 11th, 2016 12:29 am

Dear Betty,

I am so sorry for your loss. Paul was a giant intellect in the field of environmental health and his lasting contributions for understanding and acting on lead toxicity has meant much for the health of the children worldwide.

Denny Dobbin
Chapel Hill, NC

Condolence from Bob Goyer on February 12th, 2016 10:53 am

Dear Betty: My sincere condolences for the loss of Paul. It was a shock when I learned of his passing. Paul was an outstanding scientist and contributer to both the science and public health consequences of lead expure on children. He will be greatly missed by those of us who worked with toxic metals. Bob Goyer

Condolence from Helen Kelley Livingston on February 12th, 2016 4:34 pm

OH, my, Paul was absolutely brilliant and equally hospitable and fun. My heart goes out to my good friend Betty, to Paul’s family, and to their many friends.

Condolence from Marceile Riddick on February 12th, 2016 5:39 pm

Betty, I was so sorry to hear of Paul’s death. Even though I didn’t know Paul I know the 2 of you shared a wonderful life together. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time. I hope the memories of your time together will be some consolation to you. Your SC friend, Marceile Riddick.

Condolence from Mike and Carol Lysak on February 12th, 2016 11:15 pm

Dear Aunt Betty,
We did not realize Uncle Paul accomplished as much as he did for others. Dad has talked of his industriousness even as a youth, so we knew he was a really hard worker. Multiplying those God-given gifts makes him a good steward and an inspiration to the rest of us to do the same. We loved reading of his integrity and passion and his intolerance of injustice. He surely did not hide his light under a bushel, and it will shine on.
Be comforted in the celebration of his life.
Mike and Carol

Condolence from Courtney Close on February 17th, 2016 5:30 pm

Dear Betty: The Dunmore High School class of 1954 wishes to express our deepest sympathy to you and your family on the passing of your beloved husband. Paul will be remembered as a good friend and classmate.

Condolence from Bernadine Petrosky Bader on March 6th, 2016 5:13 pm

As a childhood friend of Mary Ann Guman Klebon, I remember Paul visiting Mary Ann’s family in Dunmore. He always had a big smile when he said hello. Mary Ann has mentioned him over the years and some of the things he has accomplished; what an incredible resume. Such a brilliant and devoted man will surely be missed by friends and relatives alike. We need more of his kind in this crazy world. My heartfelt condolences.

Condolence from Michele R Brandt on November 9th, 2018 5:57 pm


I just found out about Paul’s death. I never met Paul in person. But as a young lawyer in Cambodia I reached out to him via email to help advise me to protect the people of Cambodia after thousands of pounds of toxic waste were dumped in Kompong Som. He generously gave his time to me and was a key part of getting Formosa Plastics to clean up the waste. He did this all pro bono and so many people owe him so much, including myself. I am sorry for your loss. Paul was clearly a generous and talented man.

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