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.