AIHA PAT Programs Backs OSHA’s Proposed Silica Standard

Release No. SPR-14-0407-01

Nicole Racadag, AIHA Communications
(703) 846-0700;

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (April 7, 2014) — The AIHA Proficiency Analytical Testing Programs, LLC (AIHA PAT Programs) has endorsed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. AIHA PAT Programs Managing Director Mary Ann Latko, CAE, CIH, CSP, QEP, who testified at the April 1 public hearing in Washington, D.C., explained that the silica proficiency testing data from the AIHA PAT Programs is an important component of the laboratory accreditation process.

“AIHA PAT Programs supports the proposed silica permissible exposure limit,” said Latko. “With proper attention to sampling methodology and analytical analyses that are appropriate for the proposed permissible exposure limit and action level, industrial hygienists and allied health and safety professionals should be able to evaluate the level of airborne silica concentrations in the workplace and assess the potential exposures for workers.”

One of AIHA PAT Programs’ five proficiency testing (PT) programs is the Industrial Hygiene Proficiency Analytical Testing (IHPAT) Program, which has been in existence since the early 1970s. The IHPAT Program has approximately 900 total participants from private and government laboratories, educational institutions and other interested parties seeking to demonstrate their proficiency or make use of the third-party quality control provided by the PT scheme.  Laboratories can select to participate in PT for organics, metals, asbestos, and free silica.  

“There have been nearly 200 IHPAT rounds of testing completed, with more than 55 laboratories participating in each of the silica rounds from 2004 to present.  AIHA PAT Programs has tens of thousands of data points regarding analytical laboratories and their proficiency in analyzing the concentration of silica deposited on the sample media used to collect airborne silica,” added Latko.

AIHA PAT Programs has worked closely with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) since the first silica PT round in 1974.  In the article titled “Proficiency Analytical Testing (PAT) Silica Variability, 1990 – 1998,” more than 11,000 AIHA PAT Program silica data points were reviewed by NIOSH scientists. The article noted that strict adherence to standardized procedures and the use of a common silica reference material were necessary to produce precise results.  NIOSH is currently conducting a follow-up review of the nearly 10,000 AIHA PAT Programs silica data points from 1999 through 2013, the results of which will be presented at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce) in June.

AIHA PAT Programs is accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), an internationally recognized accreditation body, as a proficiency testing provider for industrial hygiene proficiency analytical testing.  A2LA’s Accreditation Program for Providers of PT is designed for those who wish to demonstrate their competence by formal compliance with a set of internationally-acceptable requirements for the planning and implementation of PT programs.

The AIHA Proficiency Analytical Testing Programs, LLC is an ISO/IEC 17043:2010 Accredited Proficiency Testing Provider. AIHA PAT Programs has been providing participant organizations with the opportunity to improve and refine the analytical skills of their staff, while testing new procedures or training different analysts for more than 35 years. These programs, which are open to any interested participants, allow organizations' employees to demonstrate their ability to correctly analyze samples in the workplace and the environment. For more information, go to