Proud to Be an IH: Community Heroism
Like many industrial hygienists, I had an inauspicious start to my career. I graduated college as a frustrated chemistry student with an uncertain future. A family member’s advice led me to consider industrial hygiene as a profession, and I found it a great fit that allowed me to creatively apply science while interacting with people and organizations throughout the U.S. and the world. In industrial hygiene, I also found a wonderful group of smart, like-minded peers and colleagues.
As my career progressed, I found that industrial hygiene is more of a state of mind than simply a vocation. Whether it involves helping a friend select the right chemical for a DIY home project, advising my local school board on a mold issue, aiding a neighbor in improving a wet basement, or making a silly video with my two young daughters on the importance of wearing PPE while making slime, I am continually amazed at the applications of industrial hygiene to our daily lives.
My daughters love to learn about how things are built and how many of their favorite products are made. In this digital age, it gives them perspective that the things they enjoy are made in workplaces by real people who risk their safety and health every day to make those products. I am glad to show my daughters the ways our profession can “give back” by enhancing the lives of those who have made the world we live in. I enjoy acting as an ambassador for the profession in both my professional and private lives, and I love offering friends and family industrial hygiene solutions to their everyday problems.
My past few months have been spent providing COVID-19 consultations to state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, manufacturers, construction companies, school districts, property managers, healthcare providers, and a large-scale television production. I have advocated among my family, friends, and neighbors for them to practice risk-reducing behaviors, and offered them peace of mind during this frightening time. We industrial hygienists are positioned to be liaisons between the medical experts and the individuals in our communities who are seeking practical, science-based advice to protect themselves from COVID-19 and during future public health emergencies. Community effort is essential to overcoming a public health crisis—and industrial hygienists will always be a vital part of this effort.
Although industrial hygiene may not be as widely known as other professions, I take heart that my loved ones know that my occupation supports the health and well-being of everyone around us. That makes me a superhero in my community, and it’s one of the many reasons I am proud to be an IH.
Fabulous Testament to the Profession
What a terrific message to pass along to our students. There are so many frustrated chemists, biologists, physicists, mathematicians, and engineers who might find a career in OH/IH to be as rewarding as you have described. The career path you've shared is similar to countless others I have heard - there is NO one unique path. The ways in which IH professionals 'fall into the profession' are as numerous as there are AIHA members.By Lawrence Sloan on August 11, 2020 4:11pm
A Great Reminder
Thanks, Todd! This was a great reminder of the reason most of us became industrial hygienists. People may not always know our professional title, but they value our expertise. We should be proud of our profession and the work that we do.By Maureen Malachowski on August 11, 2020 3:32pm