The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) will conduct a member referendum this month, in connection with a formal request by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) to contribute $500,000 to $1 million to its legal defense fund.
"We received the request in a letter dated June 3," said Hank Lick, president of AIHA. "The AIHA board of directors vigorously debated and deliberately considered the issue of how to respond to ACGIH''s request for financial support. The board concluded that since this was such a significant event, a vote of the membership is needed to determine what members would like to do."
President-elect Gayla J. McCluskey, said, "This vote should in no way be construed as the board''s abdicating its decision-making authority. Rather, it reflects the complexity of the situation."
The referendum will be mailed to all eligible voting AIHA members by Monday, July 16. Ballots will be due back by Aug. 6.
Pro and con opinion statements as written by representatives of the AIHA board of directors and approved by the AIHA executive committee will accompany the referendum, as will the official ballot.
Since December, ACGIH has been the object of three separate lawsuits that relate to its chemical substance threshold limit values, or TLVs.
The term TLV refers to the level of airborne concentrations of substances to which it is believed nearly all workers can be exposed repeatedly without adverse effect.
In a letter dated Feb. 13, 2001, then AIHA president Steven Levine, told ACGIH, "[AIHA wishes] to express our unequivocal support for the right of professional scientific groups to develop voluntary consensus occupation exposure limits and other occupational health and safety voluntary standards and guidelines." Levine went on to say that "[however] we are not able to financially support the litigation at this time."
Complete results of the membership referendum will be posted on the AIHA Web site as soon after Aug. 6 as possible.
by Virginia Sutcliffe