AIHA's History

Seventy Years of Protecting Worker Health®

AIHA celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2009. Following is a timeline of key events in the history of AIHA and occupational and environmental health and safety.
  • 1939
    AIHA® is founded by non-physician members of the American Association of Industrial Physicians and Surgeons (now ACOEM).
  • 1940
    First publication of the Journal of Industrial Medicine's Industrial Hygiene section, the forerunner of the JOEH.
  • 1943
    Alice Hamilton's book On the Dangerous Trades is published.
  • 1944
    In AIHA's first attempt to affect legislation, the association advised the U.S. government to label solvents as hazardous materials.
  • 1945
    AIHA® member Warren Cook, editor of the Industrial Hygiene section of the Journal of Industrial Medicine, publishes exposure limits. OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) are still based on Cook's work.
  • 1946
    The Industrial Hygiene section of the Journal of Industrial Medicine becomes a separate publication, the AIHA Quarterly, which is edited by association members.
  • 1948
    John Wiley and Sons publishes the first volume of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, edited by Frank A. Patty, a founder and past president of AIHA®.
  • 1948
    An air inversion pall of toxic smog kills 20 people and sickens 7,000 in Donora, Pennsylvania.
  • 1955
    AIHA® establishes its first office, in Detroit, Michigan. The first AIHA® technical committees (air pollution, analytical chemistry, noise, and radiation) are formed.
  • 1956
    AIHA® creates an ad hoc Committee on Certification.
  • 1959
    The Certification Committee recommends the establishment of a separate Board for certification of industrial hygienists, which becomes the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH).
  • 1961
    For the first time, AIHA® (with ACGIH®) conducts its own annual meeting.
  • 1963
    The first CIH examinations are held in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • 1964
    AIHA's first Canadian local sections are formed in Ottawa and Toronto.
  • 1970
    The Occupational Safety and Health Act creates OSHA and NIOSH.
  • 1971
    OSHA adopts its first Permissible Exposure Limits, which are based on the ACGIH® TLVs®.
  • 1971
    Toronto becomes the first non-U.S. city to host the American Industrial Hygiene Conference.
  • 1971
    AIHA® begins monthly publication of its journal.
  • 1973
    AIHA® headquarters moves to Akron, Ohio. The first AIHA continuing education courses are offered.
  • 1974
    AIHA® establishes its laboratory accreditation program.
  • 1975
    Morton Corn becomes the first industrial hygienist to lead OSHA.
  • 1976
    The Toxic Substances Control Act is passed.
  • 1977
    AIHA® establishes the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation (AIHF).
  • 1978
    AIHA® publishes the first Workplace Environmental Exposure Level (WEEL) Guides.
  • 1980
    The U.S. Supreme Court establishes limits on OSHA's standard-setting authority by overturning the agency's attempt to lower the benzene PEL.
  • 1982
    The Ontario Local Section changes its name to the Occupational Health Association of Ontario (OHAO).
  • 1984
    The OHAO withdraws from AIHA and incorporates as a not-for-profit association in Ontario.
  • 1986
    OSHA passes its Hazard Communication Standard.
  • 1987
    The International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) is founded during the American Industrial Hygiene Conference in Montreal.
  • 1987
    AIHA® publishes Occupational Exposure Limits—Worldwide by Warren Cook.
  • 1989
    AIHA® begins publication of The Synergist as a quarterly newsletter.
  • 1989
    In a single rulemaking, OSHA updates more than 200 existing PELs and establishes new PELs for 160 additional substances.
  • 1991
    By a mere handful of votes, a ballot initiative to change AIHA's name to the American Industrial and Environmental Health Association fails to achieve the necessary two-thirds approval of eligible voting members.
  • 1992
    U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the 1989 OSHA rulemaking, returning PELs to their 1971 levels.
  • 1992
    AIHA® headquarters moves to Fairfax, Virginia.
  • 1994
    AIHA®, ACGIH® and ABIH adopt a joint code of ethics for industrial hygienists.
  • 1996
    First issue of The Synergist as a magazine.
  • 1999
    A second bylaws amendment that would change AIHA's name fails to achieve approval from two-thirds of eligible voters.
  • 2003
    The United Nations Economic and Social Council endorses the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
  • 2004
    AIHA® and ACGIH® begin joint publication of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.
  • 2006
    The European Union passes the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation.
    2007 AIHA creates the International Affiliate category of membership.
  • 2008
    AIHA's Laboratory Quality Assurance Program is reorganized as the AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs, LLC.
  • 2009
    AIHA® and ACGIH® announce plans to develop a strategic alliance.
  • 2009
    AIHA® and OHAO sign a memorandum of understanding.
  • 2009
    OSHA publishes a proposal to align its Hazard Communication Standard with GHS.

Source: The American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1939-1990: Its History and Personalities. George and Florence Clayton, eds. AIHA: Fairfax, Va. (1994).