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.

“OH the Places You Will Go!”


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 Geoffrey Braybrooke, CIH and Christine Baker, CIH, CSP, PMP.

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

Geoffrey:  I work for the Army Public Health Center. My Division assesses chemical, thermal, and noise hazards for the Army heavy industrial base and for military unique exposures such as those of armored vehicle crews.

Christine: I am involved with consulting for military, local governments, private industry, and international health care organizations. I typically evaluate how OEH professionals execute their occupational health programs. Additionally, I assist organizations in improving their emergency preparedness capabilities through plans, gaps analyses, equipment selection, training, etc.

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

Geoffrey: Aside from the full range of industrial processes, the wide variety of Army weapon and soldier support systems provides an ongoing learning experience; we have the chance to specialize somewhat in expertise in specific types of hazards such as toxic metals.

 Christine: As a consultant, I will rarely work on the same process or project for more than a year. Sometimes I only get to work on a process for one week. One unique aspect of the consulting work that I do is that I am able to collect best practices from a wide range of customers and share these with others.

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

Geoffrey: This discipline was my first job as an industrial hygienist and proved to be an interesting and challenging work environment.

Christine: After completing my bachelor’s degree in environmental chemistry, but before starting the Peace Corps, I convinced the Portland (OR) Fire Department HAZMAT Coordinator to let me intern there. During this internship time, I asked a dozen people what master’s degree I should pursue and which one would give me the most opportunities down the road. A few individuals that I asked suggested industrial hygiene. My reply to them was, “Great, I’ll do it. What is it?”

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

 Geoffrey: The most common hazards that I assess are toxic gases and metals produced by firing weapons; toxic gases and particulate from metalworking and coating processes.

Christine: I see all types of hazards in my line of work, but I wanted to point out something else that I have noticed. I caution those IH staff members and technicians to continue to self-develop.  During my day to day operations, I have noticed IH staff members that have become conditioned to fill out boxes and forms. We don’t want to be the Occupational Health and Safety professionals that turn their brains off with respect to evaluating the quality of data or how appropriate it is for the situation. An example I want to share would be: Let’s say you’re are evaluating a noise exposure on a mechanic and you notice a 140 dBA exposure within the first ten seconds of that noise dosimetry sample. A seasoned IH would recognize that this probably is not generated from work in that mechanic’s shop and is most likely from the cover being pulled off the dosimeter’s microphone.  This is an example of the specialized knowledge, skills, and ability’s that we develop from field experience, being mentored, continuing education, and years of experience practicing.

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

 Geoffrey: Most of the controls that I see during day to day operations are Industrial ventilation, respiratory protection, and hygienic and housekeeping procedures.

Christine: In my normal day to day work, I will typically see PPE… PPE… PPE… and training.

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

Geoffrey: My Division serves the entire Army and it is sometimes difficult to exchange information with industrial hygienists at the installation level who are doing most of the routine IH work for that location.

Christine: A big challenge in my field of industrial hygiene practice is the ebb and flow of contracts. Sometimes your company has way too much work. Sometimes you have to lay people off.

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

 Geoffrey: I frequently provide recommendations for engineering controls and use of respiratory protection. I also make recommendations to develop and maintain written compliance programs that cover the full range of control measures for specific hazards.

Christine: The recommendations I make typically are in the context of evaluating the work of organizations’ OEH professionals.

– Just because reports and other communications might be technically correct, if the customer cannot understand what is being said and do something with the information, then it was all for naught.

– There is no “done” when it comes to improving written communications.