January 2019 – President’s Message

Happy New Year fellow NJAIHA members! I hope everyone had a happy, healthy and safe holiday season with family and friends.

According to Wikipedia, tradition in western culture threatens that a child who behaves badly during the year will receive only a lump of coal. Over this past holiday season, I re-discovered a big lump of coal that sits on my bookshelf. My great grandfather worked in the Pennsylvania coal mines and my lump of coal is a cherished piece of family history, as well as a reminder to behave. The lump of coal is also applicable to the history of industrial hygiene. The environment and its relation to worker health was recognized as early as the fourth century BC when Hippocrates noted lead toxicity in the mining industry. In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder, perceived health risks to those working with zinc and sulfur. In the second century AD, the Greek physician, Galen, accurately described the pathology of lead poisoning and also recognized the hazardous exposures of copper miners to acid mists. The German scholar, Agricola, advanced the science of industrial hygiene with his book De Re Metallica, where he described the diseases of miners and prescribed preventive measures including mine ventilation and worker protection, discussed mining accidents, and described diseases associated with mining occupations such as silicosis. In the early 20th century in the U.S., Dr. Alice Hamilton led efforts to improve industrial hygiene. She observed industrial conditions first hand and startled the industry with evidence that there was a correlation between worker illness and exposure to toxins. She also presented definitive proposals for eliminating unhealthful working conditions. Today, since most of the large coal seams have been mined, the miners are now working smaller coal seams within quartz, and recent studies have shown that coal miners have been increasingly exposed to silica dust. The lump of coal on my bookshelf reminds me that as industrial hygienists, we are tasked every day with protecting workers in coal mines and other dangerous occupations from the hazards of the workplace.

The Professional Development Courses in December were a great success (see related photos on pages 9-13). Dr. Vahid Ebadat, PhD of Stonehouse Process Safety presented “Flash Fire and Explosion Hazards: Identification and Control” and there was healthy discussion of NFPA 652 Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA) and other compliance issues. Considering the recent natural gas explosions in Massachusetts, fires in California and the New Jersey workplace hazards we manage on a daily basis; the fire and explosion topic was very timely. Marc Gaffrey, Partner at Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas, LLP presented “Are you prepared to be an Expert Witness?”. Nancy Orr, CIH, CSP, FAIHA presented “Ethical Fitness- A Method for Resolving Complex Dilemmas”. Dr. Robert Laumbach, MD, MPH, CIH of Rutgers School of Public Health, who also represents NJAIHA on the New Jersey Clean Air Council, presented “Current Issues in Causation Analysis at the Interface of Industrial Hygiene and Occupational and Environmental Medicine”. Based on the attendance and robust participation, these PDCs were very applicable to our professional lives and continuing education. Thanks to all the presenters and the executive committee for providing this PDC highlight of the year.

I look forward to seeing all of you at our January meeting and hope you and your families have a safe, healthy and prosperous 2019!

Doug Glorie, PE, CIH
President NJAIHA