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Jones, Philip Harrhy (1931–1994)

Philip Harrhy Jones was a civil engineer and a microbiologist who was warning about environmental hazards long before ecology became a popular concern.

A professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, he left Canada four years ago to found the school of environmental engineering at Griffith University near Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia.

Prof. Jones died there of cancer on Sept. 22. He was 63 years old.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Oct. 19 at St. Dunstan of Canterbury Church on Lawson Rd. in Scarborough.

"He was one of a kind," said his friend Tom Davey, owner-editor of Environmental Science & Engineering magazine. "He did not seek refuge in the ivory tower, he was militant in proselytizing his ideas and his ideals."

Prof. Jones was born in Wales. He earned his B.Sc. degree at the University of Toronto and then a master's and doctorate from Northwestern University in Chicago. He then returned to teach at the University of Toronto, where he eventually became a full professor.

A pioneering environmental activist, Prof. Jones was credited with bringing about legislative changes that restricted the use of phosphates in laundry detergents.

He first linked detergent phosphates to water pollution in an article published in 1968. It provoked much controversy in Canada and the United States, and he was called to testify at a U.S. congressional hearing.

He was also active in studies in Canada and Australia on the disposal of PCBs using cement kiln technology.

"Phil's vision was that scientists should not work in isolation, he wanted an interdisciplinary approach," Davey said yesterday.

That led to him becoming a driving force behind the creation of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the U of T.

It also prompted him to leave Canada to create the new environmental engineering school in Queensland.

"It was his dream to create such a school and Griffith University gave him, if not a blank cheque, a blank wall to draw on. He couldn't resist a challenge and an opportunity like that," Davey said.

Prof. Jones died just as the first graduates were coming out of the school.

He leaves his wife, two daughters, Denise and Lisa, two sons, Glyn and Ian, and six grandchildren.

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Citation details

'Jones, Philip Harrhy (1931–1994)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/jones-philip-harrhy-29643/text37270, accessed 28 January 2022.

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