'Uncharted Territory' Explored at AIHce in Dallas

What do the OSHA administrator, the NIOSH director, mold and bioterrorism have in common? All are on the agenda of the American Industrial Hygiene conference and exposition.

Mold, bioterrorism and radioactive warfare are topics that traditionally have not been high priorities for many occupational safety and health professionals. But that has changed with recent national and international events, events reflected in the agenda of the 2003 American Industrial Hygiene conference and exposition (AIHce), scheduled for May 10-15 at the Dallas Convention Center.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) cosponsor the conference, which is in its 64th year. The theme of this year's conference is "Navigating Uncharted Territory."

An anticipated 8,000 attendees have a choice of more than 275 programs including symposia, professional development courses, newly developed management certificate courses, special sessions and lectures, and technical sessions, which are categorized as roundtable, EHS crossover, podium and poster sessions.

Conference events kicked off today at 8 a.m. with a keynote address by John L. Henshaw, CIH, ROH, assistant secretary of labor, OSHA. Henshaw, a former AIHA president, has 26 years of experience directing environmental health programs in the chemical industry, and has actively participated in numerous volunteer positions in the EHS community. He updated participants about OSHA activities, which include the release of ergonomic guidelines for several industries, partnerships with associations and various industry groups, and enforcement efforts targeted at reducing workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. He also unveiled the agency's Strategic Management Plan for the next five years.

Tuesday, May 13, at 8 a.m., John Howard, M.D., director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, will share his list of priorities for the agency. Emergency preparedness is at the top of his research agenda, a topic sure to be of interest to industrial hygienists and other EHS professionals.

Melinda Ballard, the president of national advocacy group Policyholders of America, of Austin, Texas, offers her perspective about the effects of mold on families and homes on Wednesday, May 14, at 8 a.m. Whether you agree or disagree with Ballard's positions, her story is one that adds a real-world perspective to the debate. A breakout Q&A session will follow this presentation that includes Ballard and industrial hygienists involved with the science of mold.

Approximately 90 professional development courses precede the conference on Saturday and Sunday, May 10-11. Mold and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) are featured as a special week-long educational track, beginning with the Saturday, May 10, symposium, "Environmental Mold: State of the Science, State of the Art" and the Sunday, May 11, symposium, "Indoor Air Quality Research: New Directions." The chemical/biological terrorism learning track will offer lessons learned from the anthrax attacks, an introduction to chemical/biological/radiological warfare and consequence management, and many other topics.

Chemical-biological terrorism, emergency response planning, emerging issues, young workers, personal protective equipment, air sampling and monitoring and occupational medicine are just a few of the many other topics scheduled for discussion during technical sessions.

James Nash, Washington editor for Occupational Hazards, has developed a special roundtable session, "Reactive Chemical Hazards: A Problem in Search of a Solution," for Thursday, May 15 at 8 a.m. The roundtable promises a lively discussion among panelists from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Eastman Chemical Co. the ICWUC/UFCW, Texas A&M University and AIHA.

The exhibition features the health and safety products and services of more than 350 companies. Exhibitors will demonstrate the latest tools, equipment, services and technologies for industrial hygienists and other OEHS professionals. Exposition hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on May 12-13, and 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on May 14. Visit Occupational Hazards at Booth 425.

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