Mentoring Corner: Message from the Chair

By Michael Finnamore

I hope everyone is well.  So much has happened since my last up date, both within the group as well as across the US.  I wanted to first send out my thoughts and prayers to anyone impacted by the hurricanes or the horrific events that took place in Las Vegas, New York and most recently Texas.  As AIHA just recently posted the need for health and safety professionals, in particular industrial hygienist, will be paramount in the coming months as the waters recede and people begin to try and rebuild.  I think this is a time for the industrial hygiene community to come together to support the rebuilding of so many lives.  If anyone needs assistance or is interested in getting involved please contact myself or the AIHA.

I also want to encourage those of you that have been mentors to step forward as mentees.  What the tragedies have shown us is that we all need each other and at times we all need help.  Mentoring is a great way to give back to a profession that for many of us has given us so much.  I know the thought of mentoring can be daunting and I even had a lot of nerves the first time I stepped up; however I can ensure you it has given me some of the greatest experiences of my professional career.  So I am reaching out to all of you who have thought about it, but never taken the leap.  Reach out to me or anyone on the MPDC committee, it will be one of the best decisions you have ever made.

Till next Quarter,



Reader’s Review: Brain Rules

brain rulesBy Michelle Coutu

John Median, a developmental molecular biologist, was the closing keynote speaker at the American Industrial Hygiene conference and exposition (AIHce) 2017. He spoke of how we can build better teams using our current knowledge of brain science. Even with his energetic presentation style and fast talking, it is impossible to fit a comprehensive summary of the current body knowledge on brain science into 60 minutes. Good thing he wrote a book to expand upon this topic!

Originally published in 2008 John Median has continued to update and revise his bestselling book Brain Rules. The book is broken down into twelve sections that take deep dives into how and why our brains developed to their current state, as well as practicable applications. ­The twelve sections include: Survival, Exercise, Sleep, Stress, Wiring, Attention, Memory, Sensory Integration, Vision, Music, Gender, and Exploration. If you have read similar type books, like the Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, some of the examples and research may be familiar to you, however the author frames the material in a fun and light way that it reinforce previous learning without feeling redundant. (See brain rule #5 Memory, repeat to remember).
As we grow and mature in our careers, it is helpful to pause for a moment and check in and evaluate ourselves. Self-reflection allows us to learn from experiences and build emotional intelligent. Skills that are critical for managers and leaders. This book provides an opportunity to practice and strengthen these abilities in a manner that doesn’t feel like chore. It is an informative light read that provides significant insight in to who we are and why we do what we do.

call for books

“OH the Places You Will Go!” with Shawn Heuth, MS.


This featured piece is a collaboration between the AIHA SECP and the AIHA Hazard Prevention and Engineering Controls Committee (HPECC) and is a chance for SECP members to hear from practicing IHs about their experiences in the field.

This quarter’s newsletter features Shawn Heuth, MS.


What type of business is your employer and what types of industrial processes do you survey as their IH?


Shawn:  I have served as an industrial hygienist in a diverse range of specialized trades.  I have been an industrial hygienist for industries such as gold mining, Artic slope gas and oil, welding, and veterinary and healthcare environments, to forward deployed military settings. I am currently employed with the US Army where I have had the privilege of working as an IH at two different Federal installations, worked for the Army Public Health Center as a subject matter expert, and deployed with service members to conduct research in in the Middle East.






What do you think is unique/interesting about where you work and the type of IH work you do there?


Shawn: In this job, I am able to promote the career field of Industrial Hygiene.  I have almost 10,000 individual transcripts that I track.  I have the opportunity daily to help careerists with a multitude of self-development challenges.  On any given day at work I could be showing a careerist how to do a complicated math equation, using the hierarchy of controls to resolve complex exposures, or provide over the shoulder assistance with data capture and assessment.


How and why did you get involved with this type of IH work?


Shawn:  I started out in safety and then I switched to work IH. I got involved with this type of work because I truly enjoy IH work. I am fascinated with how the human body works. IH is a wonderful field that keeps me pushing myself to master the basics of many fields of science. I stay hungry for more knowledge working to be a better IH. It’s a field that allows you to become an individual because you might like and could specialize in something specific like welding or be a broad spectrum professional of all science fields in industrial hygiene.


What types of hazards do you typically see doing IH where you work?


Shawn: My mining industry experience included an incredible amount of noise sampling and research. While working at the Army installation level IH, my sampling focus was mostly waste anesthetic gases, and formaldehyde.  I have done extensive metal fume sampling in the Arctic oilfields on the North Slope of Alaska. I also have conducted particle size selective sampling in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan in a civilian capacity.  I presently am enjoying my position as an Army Proving Ground IH working in cutting edge chemical and biological research facilities.


What types of controls do you typically see/evaluate doing IH where you work?

Shawn: In my normal day to day work, I will evaluate engineering controls for laboratory settings to include dilution ventilation air exchanges per hour, laboratory fume hood ventilation, and specialized downdraft tables for necropsy.


What do you consider are the biggest challenges for an IH where you work?


Shawn: The biggest challenge that I have with my current position is populating data into our occupational health database.  It is a very laborious data entry process which means less time available for me to conduct sampling and surveys for my client.


What are some examples of common recommendations you make doing IH where you work?


Shawn: The most common recommendations that I currently make include: having employees visit our Occupational Health providers if they are having indoor air quality symptoms, to continue to wear hearing protection for noise hazardous process to protect hearing, and to follow unit Standing Operating Procedures for choosing respiratory protection.




Committee Meeting Notes – July 2017

Mentoring and Professional Development Committee

By Michelle Coutu

  • Moving in to the 2017/2018 year pairing will be completed by a pairing committee which will allow regional directors more time to provide support to established mentoring pairs.
  • Look for new pairing connections to be made this fall after all participants complete their surveys due July 28.
  • Planning for AIHce 2018 has begun! Ideas for 2018 include
    • Collaborating with the Career and Employment Services Committee and Communication Committee on a session on communication and etiquette in the modern age
    • Continuing our successful sessions based on our favorite leadership books.


Student and Early Career Professional Committee

By Michelle Coutu

  • Nina Townsend joined our call to talk about the Social Concerns Committee and Ionizing Radiation Committee.
  • The Social Concerns Committee is committed to bringing awareness and change fobloodr high risk worker populations with collaboration with environmental justice and social justice movement. The sponsor the popular Upton Sinclair Lecture and the documentary screening at AIHce every year. This year’s film Blood on the Mountain (2016) can be found on Netflix.
  • The Ionizing Radiation is a technical committee that provides resources and expertise for AIHA members. The committee is made up of members representing industry and regulatory agencies with the common goal of educating and protecting worker health from ionizing radiation.
  • The committee reviewed our 2017 AIHce offerings and has begun looking ahead to AIHce 2018.
    • Suggestions and ideas to improve our presence at the First Timers Breakfast and Table Top Talks is welcome.
    • New potential session topics include,
    • A Beginner’s Guide to…[Insert topic],
    • IH and middle level management,
    • Mistakes and blunders we all make [to include a section on technical writing].

Mentoring Corner: Meet The New MPDC Committee Chair By Michael Finnamoremike finnamore

Hi everyone! I am hoping that all of you and your families are having a fantastic summer thus far. I am still digging out from conference, travel, etc., but wanted to take a moment to introduce myself self as I will be chairing the Mentoring and Professional Development Committee (MPDC) over the next year.  My name is Michael Finnamore and I work for Baxter Healthcare as the Director of Environmental, Health, Safety and Sustainability for their Global Supply Chain and Contract Manufacturing organizations.   Additionally, I serve as Baxter’s Global Director of Industrial Hygiene, responsible for setting direction for the Hazardous Materials program.   I have been part of mentoring program for about five years serving as a mentor for young professionals in the Chicagoland area as well as volunteering on this committee.  I am very passionate about the mentoring program and I am looking forward to the upcoming year.

As the lead of the MPDC I will be focused on enhancing the mentor/mentee program by increasing our visibility across AIHA and ensuring a positive experience for all mentors and mentees. We have a very strong team and I am fortunate to have a long list of great leaders to follow.

Over the next year we plan to continue to provide the same level of professionalism and leadership as we continue to provide a forum and framework for both mentees and mentors to grow in their professions and careers.   We will continue to strive to provide educational opportunities for all AIHA members and this is where you come in!  I want to encourage everyone to reach out to me or any of the team members (See list below) with ideas or needs that the MPDC may be able to fulfil.  I am looking forward to working with everyone in 2017/2018.


All the Best,



MPDC Board 2017/2018


Mike Finnamore, Chair
Tim Paz, Vice Chair
Michelle Coutu, Secretary


MPDC Regional Directors

Tim Paz – East Region


Brandi Kissel – South Region


Karla Simon – Midwest Region


Zach Pasquinelli – Central Region


Kate Serrano – Western Region


Andrew Boester- Canadian Region/International


Reader’s Review

By Michelle Coutu

Radium girlsBefore OSHA, NIOSH, MSHA, before the Walsh Healy Act, and the Commission of Industrial Relations. There was the Radium Girls.

At the turn of the century radium was all the rage, this new material was praised for its luminous qualities and supposed ‘medicinal purposes.’ The United States Radium Corporation (USRC) employed hundreds of girls to paint watch and instrument dials using this newly discovered material starting in 1917 in Orange, New Jersey. The girls were instructed to point their brushes with their lips before applying paint to the dials, this was to ensure their productivity and quality was high. “Lip, Dip, Paint.” Life was good, friendships were forged in studios where girls spent the days painting dials and getting paid by the piece.

However, the good times slowly started to fade. What the girls did not know was that radium was a poison. Ingesting radium from lip pointing was exposing the girls to unprecedented levels of radium, which we now know to produce alpha and gamma radiation as it decays. Local dentists were baffled at the girls who were arriving at their offices with pain, abscesses, missing teeth, and necrotic jaws. The girls’ health continued to rapidly decline and their lives began to fall apart. Many lost their entire jaw, were unable to eat, had limbs amputated, lost their physical mobility, were unable to heal from cuts and abscesses, and to top it all off they fell in to crippling debt due to their escalating medical expenses.  When USRC was confronted with these cases of industrial poisoning by radium and asked to be accountable for them, they did everything in their power to hide, deny, and deflect responsibility. Even going as far as to blatantly lying about the safety of radium.
It wasn’t until 1928, almost 10 years later, that the radium girls in New Jersey were able to take USRC to court, spear headed by the tenacious Grace Fryer. Their litigation was followed in 1937 by another cohort of radium girls in Ottawa, Illinois. The impact of their suffering was not in vain yet, like most minorities in history their sacrifice and misery was eroded to a footnote over time. Their unprecedented legal actions lead to accelerated reforms in US Labor laws (however, at the time many of the girls were unable to take advantage of the expanded laws due to the strict statute of limitations in place at the time of their diagnosis). Their dire situation pushed scientists to develop the first instrument to measure radioactive body burdens, and in time their exposure and epidemiological data was used to establish the Center of Human Radiobiology at Argonne National Laboratory in 1968, which was critical in establishing the first exposure limits for radioactive compounds.

Kate Moore does a fantastic job of weaving history and narrative to deliver the often untold story of the Radium Girls. She does not shy away from the tragedy the girls’ experiences or the unscrupulous actions of the organizations involved. This is a must read for all industrial/occupational hygienists with a curiosity for the history of our profession and for those looking to reaffirm their commitment to worker health.