Social Concerns Committee


To provide a forum for identifying and responding to social issues related to occupational and environmental health.  

Goals and Objectives  

Goal: Provide input on the development and implementation of governmental, academic, industrial, and labor policies concerned with the occupational and environmental health of workers.  

Objective #1: Respond to the potential for discriminatory action based on occupational and environmental health policies.  


  • Assess the impact of occupational and environmental health policies on workers and other populations.

  • Respond to AIHA Board requests to address specific issues.

  • Meet at the AIHce and at other times as appropriate.   

Objective #2: Raise the level of awareness of relevant social issues among occupational and environmental health professionals.  


  • Work with other AIHA committees whose output may have implications relative to social issues.

  • Solicit papers; organize sessions; and provide session arrangers, chairs, and monitors for the AIHce.

  • Develop and recommend positions to the AIHA Board.   


AIHce Sessions Sponsored by the Social Concerns Committee (1977-present)  


ASCC Sessions 1977-2019 (005).doclist all sessions sponsored by the Social Concerns Committee since 1977.  It shows the wide diversity of topics covered and gives a sense of the direction and focus of the committee. 

Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture    

The Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture for an Outstanding Occupational Safety and Health News Story of The Year was instituted in 2000 by AIHA's Social Concerns Committee to highlight the importance of media in occupational safety and health, to show AIHA members what is beyond their plants and companies, to involve the public in the cause of occupational safety and health, and to recognize good investigative reporting. The lecture is named for the political activist Upton Sinclair, best known for his novel The Jungle, published in 1906. The Jungle highlighted the horrors of the meat packing plants in Chicago lead to major health and safety changes in the industry.   

Each year there are a number of safety and health news stories that make a big impact, such as the stories on the beryllium industry in the Toledo newspapers or the Libby, Montana disaster in the Seattle newspapers. These stories even effect changes in policy and improve protections for workers. In general, coverage of safety and health issues is rare in the press, but the lecture helps to encourage coverage of these issues and also recognizes outstanding achievement.   

The lecture is presented annually at AIHce. A journalist will be invited to deliver a lecture based on his or her story and extend the impact to the professional audience. Nominees can be from different media including: newspapers, magazines, the Internet, television, and radio. The goal of lecture is, in part, to stimulate discussion in the industrial hygiene professional community about how it could have a bigger impact and be more pro-active to prevent future injuries and illnesses.       

2019: Jeffrey Meitrodt of the Milwaukee Star Tribune - Tragic Harvest - The Pric eof Neglecting Farm Safety in the Midwest

2018​: Sara Mojtehedzadeh from Toronto Star - Temp Nation

2017: Howard Berkes from National Public Radio - Advanced Black Lung Cases Surge in Appalachia 

2016: Sarah Nir - The Price of Nice Nails    

2015: Michael Grabell - Temp Land: Working in the New Economy 

2014: Gabriel Thompson - Hiddden Dangers at Work 

2013: Tony Cook- Indianapolis Star- Sensient Flavorings investigation 

2012: Chris Hamby- Center for Public Integrity- VPP investigation series 

2011: Jim Morris- Center for Public Integrity- Asbestos investigative reporting 

2010: Stephen Greenhouse- New York Times- World of Hurt series 

2009: Alexandra Berzon- Las Vegas Sun- Construction deaths on the Las Vegas strip 

2008: Loretta Tofani- Salt Lake City Tribune- American Imports, Chinese deaths 

2007: Jordan Barab- Occupational Safety and Health and the Media 

2006: Ken Ward- Charleston Gazette- The Sago Mine Disaster 

2005: Gerald Markowitz (and David Rosner), historians and authors discussed their book "Deceit and Denial" and the controversy surrounding it. 

2004: Woody Sixel from Houston Chronicle spoke to discuss her column "Working" which covers workplace safety and health issues 

2003: David Barstow from the NY Times spoke about his series on McWane Industries and the PBS show that resulted from it. 

2002: Sherry Jones producer from Bill Moyers program invited to talk about their program "Trade Secrets" - She couldn't come so we showed the program 

2001: Andrew Schneider (invited) but Carol Jones lectured about their series on Asbestos in Libby, Montana   

AIHce Showing of the Film

 2019: Dirty Laundry spotlights the difficulties and sorrow that families face when they are confronted with a diagnosis of terminal mesothelioma. NIH and WHO publications suggest that 2,500 people die each year from Mesothelioma. Global case estimates approach 100,000 annual deaths. Asbestos management, exposure control and its impacts on workplaces and communities is a core issue for industrial hygienists, and it will be for years to come. This documentary provides a fresh human perspective on the important work that IHs do to protect workers and the public from asbestos exposure risks. The film's Director, Conor Lewis, will introduce the film and provide background context and motivation making for the documentary.​

Student Poster Awards   


First Place: 

Can Extended Work Hours and Shiftwork Lead to Psychosocial Work Stress in Emergency  Room Nurses

Authors: Rupkatha Bardaan, and Dale A Dickinson,  Department of Environmental Health Sciences Univ. of Alabama Birmingham; Karen Heaton and Peter Chen, School of Nursing Univ. of Alabama Birmingham and Claudiu T. Lungu, Department of Psychology Univ. of Auburn. 


First Place:
Evaluating Personal Attenuation Ratings of Midwest Agricultural and Industrial Workers
Christine DeVito, University of Iowa  

Second Place:
Exposure to Glyphosate in the Agriculture Sector: A Critical Review and Comparison of Biomonitoring Results and Potential Exposure
Eric Cuevas, University of Illnois-Chicago 

Third Place:
Identifying Realt Time VOC Exposure and Source Direction for A School Surrounded by Industrial Area
Rih-Sheng Jian, National Taiwan Normal University  


1st Place

Performance of an N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator and a Surgical Mask Used by Home Attending Health-Care Workers (Pilot Study) Yousef Elmashae, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio (Graduate) 

 2nd Place  

The Environmental Justice Youth Training Program: Increasing Community Capacity through A Youth-Based Drop-in Module Amy Hillerman, California State University, Fullerton, California (Graduate) 

 3rd Place 

Determinants of Nicotine Exposure in Tobacco Harvesting Workers: A Pilot Study Nchekwubechukwu Okafor and Vedant Gohil, University of North Texas, Fort Worth, Texas (Graduate)  


 Oumy Sy, student at the University of Oklahoma, standing alongside her poster entitled “Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Among African Hair Braiders” that won the Social Concerns Committee’s Best Student Poster award at the 2014 AIHce in San Antonio.