Founded by health and safety campaigner Nancy Tait (1920-2009), the Occupational and Environmental Diseases Association (OEDA) started out as the world’s first asbestos action group, the Society for the Prevention of Asbestosis and Industrial Diseases (SPAID).
SPAID was registered as a charity in November 1978, initially operating from Nancy Tait’s home in Enfield, North London. Following a successful funding bid to the Greater London Council, the charity occupied office space in Cuffley, North London, from October 1983. Funding continued for nearly 20 years. In 1988 SPAID added an electron microscope laboratory to its services, the EM Research Unit, which was equipped with the latest technology to detect asbestos fibres in lung tissue. The EM Unit occupied a ground floor suite at Mitre House, Enfield, which also provided additional office space. In 1995 the organisation’s two offices were consolidated at Mitre House.
At the instigation of the organisation's main funding body, SPAID underwent a management review by the Charities Effectiveness Review Trust during 1991. One outcome of the reviewing process was the decision to appoint a salaried executive director and to bring the organisation in line with the funding body’s standards for business procedures. A working party was set up in 1992, with the result that OEDA was formally incorporated at the end of September 1993 and registered as a charity in January 1994. At that stage OEDA was projected to take over as SPAID’s successor organisation from April 1994. In effect the two bodies existed in tandem for over two years. During the transition an executive director was appointed but remained in office for three months only, after which management reverted to previous arrangements. SPAID officially became OEDA in January 1996. As part of the name change, the organisation's mission broadened out to encompass occupational and environmental health issues that were not related to asbestos more explicitly than before.
From 2000 to 2002, when a new legislative body known as the Greater London Authority (GLA) was established, OEDA received GLA funding. OEDA's subsequent applications to GLA were unsuccessful. OEDA was dissolved as a registered company in April 2009, two months after Nancy Tait's death, and finally removed from the register of charities on 9 May 2010.
Original proposals for the name of the charity included 'Trust for Asbestos Welfare Research and Control' (TAWRC) and 'Asbestos Induced Diseases Society' (AIDS). Proposals for the name of the successor organisation OEDA included 'Occupational Diseases Association' (ODA), 'Industrial Diseases of the Environment Association' (IDEA) and 'Investigation of Industrial Diseases of the Environment Association' (IIDEA).
The OEDA logo was designed by Matt Wilson. The contact with the designer was through then OEDA chairman Mr Laurie Horam.
SPAID was registered as a charity on 30 November 1978 (Registered Charity 276995) and removed from the register on 11 January 2000. OEDA was registered as a charity on 6 January 1994 (Registered Charity 1031036) and removed from the register on 9 May 2010. OEDA had previously been incorporated as a private limited company by guarantee without share capital use of 'Limited' exemption (Company Number 02864612, from 21 October 1993) and was formally dissolved on 14 April 2009. Known addresses for the organisation were 6A Station Road, Cuffley; Mitre House, 66 Abbey Road, Enfield; and Nancy Tait's home at 38 Drapers Road, Enfield.