From the Archives: A Focus on Labs
The August 2021 Synergist, which is now being printed, is the latest of our annual special issues on laboratories, with contributions on sampling for and analysis of SARS-CoV-2, protecting researchers who work alone in laboratories, and establishing protections for lab workers who may be exposed to reproductive and developmental hazards. I’m grateful to AIHA’s Laboratory Health and Safety and Sampling and Analysis Committees for contributing these and many other articles over the years, and to Cheryl Morton, AIHA’s managing director for AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs LLC, for her guidance on topics that both AIHA members and the LAP community will find useful.
Today’s “From the Archives” post looks back at some of The Synergist’s recent lab-related articles.
From the August 2016 issue, this Q&A with Cindy Ostrowski, an IH consultant, and Laura Parker, a laboratory manager, identifies potential miscommunications between practitioners and lab personnel that can lead to poor outcomes. At worst, communication problems can even affect the legitimacy of sampling results.
In this 2017 follow-up to “The Best Sampling Data,” Cindy Ostrowski makes another appearance, this time alongside SGS Galson’s Bill Walsh to discuss the kinds of support that laboratories can provide IHs. The article addresses topics such as verifying methods, renting and transporting equipment, making sense of sampling data, and the role of labs in a world that increasingly uses direct-reading instruments.
For the uninitiated, the language laboratories use to discuss analytical limits can seem dizzyingly complex. In this article from the November 2017 issue, Michael Brisson and Derek Popp, who have a wealth of experience in labs, explain the meanings behind terms such as instrument detection limit, method detection limit, method quantitation limit, and reporting limit.
One of the standards that governs accredited labs is ISO/IEC 17025, General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories. When this standard was updated in 2017, it introduced the idea of “risk-based thinking,” which placed responsibility for organizing a lab’s policies and procedures on lab managers. As author Bob Lieckfield, Jr., explains in the August 2019 issue, the 2017 update was alarming to the lab community because “laboratories were accustomed to having policies and procedures defined by the accrediting body (AIHA-LAP, in the case of industrial hygiene laboratories) rather than assuming that responsibility themselves.” Lieckfield’s article shows how the standard’s requirement for risk-based thinking is actually empowering for lab managers.
In this article from 2019, authors Ryan F. LeBouf, Dru A. Burns, Anand Ranpara, and Alan Rossner discuss the challenges of whole-air sampling and describe the development of NIOSH method 3900, which uses a pre-concentrator/gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer system to analyze samples of volatile organic compounds.
What lab-related topics would you like to see in The Synergist? Our staff is working on next year’s editorial calendar, so now is a great time to share your suggestions in the comments.