Synergist Solutions Articles

Synergist® Solutions Articles are vendor-sponsored discussions of practical topics related to industrial hygiene and occupational and environmental health and safety. For information about participating in the Synergist Solutions series, email Holly Klarman at Network Media Partners.

April 2017

Regulating Legionella: Choosing an Analytical Method
By Christopher Goulah
Sponsored by EMSL Analytical, Inc.

During the summer of 2015, a series of fatal legionellosis outbreaks forced the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to take emergency action to contain the rapid spread of the infection. After determining that the source of the outbreak was a centrally located cooling tower, emergency ordinances were put in place that mandated the disinfection of all cooling towers citywide. The city passed permanent regulations to maintain a set schedule of maintenance and biological monitoring of all cooling towers within the NYC limits. Requirements included daily water quality measurements, weekly biological process control indicators, and quarterly Legionella testing. NYC DOHMH quickly followed suit and published “Protection Against Legionella,” which established similar regulations statewide to cover both cooling towers and healthcare facilities.


December 2016

Aggressive Moves in Passive Sampling
By Debbie Dietrich
Sponsored by SKC Inc.

In the February 1973 issue of the AIHA Journal, researchers Palmes and Gunnison announced the first quantitative air sampler based on the principle of diffusion. This innovative diffusive device was used to measure time-weighted average (TWA) exposures of sulfur dioxide and spurred continued research into diffusive, or passive, technology. By 1980, both 3M and DuPont had begun to offer passive organic vapor monitors. Since that time, there have been advances in the types of commercially available passive samplers and organizations such as NIOSH, ANSI/ISEA, ASTM, and the U.K. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have developed passive sampler validation protocols. 

This article reviews recent initiatives by U.S. and U.K. agencies to advance the science of passive samplers.


October 2016

Big Data in Occupational Hygiene
By Peter Briscoe
Sponsored by Nanozen

Humans are visual beings. Fully two-thirds of our brains’ processing ability is engaged with visualizing our world. The result is that we can make better decisions much faster if the information to make those decisions is in a visual form.

For the past 40 years, communication and computing power has improved to the point that we can create visualizations for almost any type of data. Today there is a vast, ever-expanding volume of data available for any number of applications. The prevalence of large, complex datasets has given rise to the term “big data.” Using these large datasets can lead to more confident decision making and better decisions, resulting in greater operational efficiency, cost reduction, and reduced risk.


April 2016

The Pros and Cons of Portable Gas Detection
By Steve Luecke
Sponsored by Nextteq LLC

Many instruments measure airborne levels of toxic gases and vapors, and for industrial hygienists and others who oversee firefighting and emergency response, understanding what types of portable devices will be most useful is not an easy task. Whether you’re responsible for hazmat response, post-fire overhaul activities, or determining the need for respiratory protection, obtaining meaningful measurements of atmospheric hazards is of critical importance. This article describes several available technologies for gas detection.


December 2015

A Formaldehyde Blowout Floored Us in 2015
By Debbie Dietrich
Sponsored by SKC Inc.

The products of formaldehyde chemistry have permeated our world. Classified as an organic chemical intermediate, formaldehyde is a building block for resins and a raw material for chemical production. As of 2003, a total of 40 formaldehyde production sites in the U.S. and 11 in Canada produced approximately five million metric tons of formaldehyde for a variety of uses. The Formaldehyde Council reports that more than four million workers in the U.S. and Canada depend on the formaldehyde industry for direct or indirect employment.

Public health concerns over two formaldehyde-containing products have caused formaldehyde to take center stage in the news media: hair smoothing products such as Brazilian Blowout and laminate flooring from China. Given recent headlines, now is a good time to take a fresh look at exposure measurement options for formaldehyde.


April 2015

Originally published in August 2014.

Review of Whole Air Sampling for Industrial Hygienists
By Steve Luecke
Sponsored by Nextteq LLC
The collection of whole air samples with commercially available collection devices like stainless steel canisters and gas sample bags is a widely used sampling method in fields such as environmental science. The aliquot of whole air collected can be analyzed directly by laboratories without the need for collection media to trap a target chemical of interest. A wide variety of gases can be directly analyzed from whole air samples using advanced methods such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Further, any number of unrelated compounds can be analyzed from whole air without the inherent limitations of selective media.

However, because whole air sampling has not been historically used to perform personal monitoring, this method is not commonly associated with industrial hygiene strategies or sampling activities. The most common type of industrial hygiene air sampling is personal air monitoring, where small personal sampling pumps or passive monitors are used to collect air contaminants through a preselected sorbent, filter, or collection media. After sampling is completed, the media is sent to a laboratory to determine time-weighted average exposure concentrations for preselected air contaminants recovered from the media.

May 2014

A Global Focus on the Hazards of Peracetic Acid
By Debbie Dietrich
Volunteers in the AIHA® Healthcare Working Group are among the many health and safety professionals around the world who are focused on the hazards of peracetic acid. Also known as peroxyacetic acid or PAA (CAS No. 79-21-0), this chemical is being increasingly used as a chemical disinfectant in healthcare and other industries. The use of PAA has grown globally as organizations seek safer alternatives to traditional sterilants such as glutaraldehyde and ethylene oxide. For example, the U.K. Health and Safety Commission (HSC) identified glutaraldehyde as the fifth highest cause of asthma and encouraged the use of alternative disinfecting agents where practical. (HSC merged with the U.K. Health and Safety Executive, or HSE, in 2008.) Ethylene oxide has been identified by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) as a known carcinogen and a probable teratogen.
Will peracetic acid prove to be the safe alternative to traditional sterilants? How do we effectively measure PAA exposures and overcome the sampling challenges posed by this hazard? Professionals in the health and safety arena are actively seeking answers to these questions.

May 2013

Silica Hazards: New Concerns and Sampling Options
By Debbie Dietrich
Occupational exposure to silica surfaced as a priority issue for OSHA in the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s 2013–2014 biennial survey of its members on the top public policy issues of concern for occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals. In February 2013, U.S. congressional committee leaders echoed AIHA members’ concern in a letter requesting action from the White House on OSHA’s proposal to update the agency’s crystalline silica exposure standard. The letter notes that the review of the proposed silica standard has been delayed at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for more than two years while government data has shown an increase in the number of reported illnesses and deaths related to silica exposure.
So what’s making news in regard to silica problems and solutions today?

March 2013

Gas Detection Help and the Industrial Hygiene Process
By Bill Smith
Industrial hygienists can be responsible for noise, biological concerns, trips/slips/falls, personal protective equipment, fire, electrical, ergonomics, fleet, noise, air quality, and dozens of other areas. The breadth and depth of health and safety issues covered by industrial hygienists is so vast that it’s hard to fathom how any of them could keep up with such diverse demands.
One of industrial hygienists’ possible roles is to ensure successful gas detection programs within their organizations. This article reviews gas detection in relation to the industrial hygiene process: anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control.

November 2012

Plastic Polymers and the Changing Nature of Fires
By Robb Zurek and Draeger’s Engineering Team
Research shows that over the past 50 years there has been rapid growth in the use of plastic-based products in building structures and their contents. This has drastically changed the nature of fires and the combustion byproducts as plastic materials burn. There is growing evidence that, along with the well-known threat of carbon monoxide (CO), life-threatening concentrations of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) gas can be present in combustion byproducts. Sometimes airborne concentrations of HCN may be high enough that they cause immediate symptoms in responders not wearing their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). In other cases, lower concentrations of HCN breathed in for a long enough time may cause symptoms later, including fatal heart attacks.

October 2012

Changes to LEED Program Upcoming in 2013
By Bill Walsh
The next update to the LEED standard was scheduled to be implemented this November. However, the update has been delayed for a year. Concerns voiced by the various stakeholders within the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) have pushed the rollout to June 2013, although an earlier implementation may be possible if a consensus can be reached prior to that date.

September 2012

Advantages of Real-time Measurements in Industrial Hygiene
By Sreenath Avula and Greg Olson
Real-time monitoring in industrial hygiene has revolutionized the measurement of workplace hazards. Direct-reading instruments have enabled industrial hygienists to be proactive, allowing them to measure physical and chemical hazards as they are being generated. The time-consuming alternative is to wait for an 8-hour reference method sample to be completed at the end of the work shift and then send it to a laboratory for subsequent analysis. Real-time monitoring using direct-reading instruments also enables source identification and is a very useful tool for source apportionment and modeling, evaluation and validation of engineering controls, and corrective actions during personal and ambient work area monitoring activities.

May 2012

Celebrating the History of Methods and Media
By Debbie Dietrich
The history of air sampling methods and media demonstrates commitment and collaboration on the part of professionals working in government, industry, and ​commercial production. All practicing hygienists should be inspired by the vision shown by these pioneers. Based on their efforts, workers around the world have been protected from toxic air contaminants. We all share in this legacy and continue the vision for the future, whether our job is to develop methods, produce sampling media, or deploy these valuable tools in our workplace.

May 2011

Developing Air Sampling Solutions When the Unexpected Happens
By Debbie Dietrich
Logically, we all know that nothing lasts forever. However, most of us would not even consider that sample collection media specified in long-standing methods could become obsolete. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. When it does, technical experts in the health and safety community must collaborate to quickly find suitable alternatives.

April 2010

Datalog the Time Away
By Brad Day
It’s 4 a.m. and you have been called in to work early. A gas release has injured several refinery employees during the night shift.
Fortunately, gas detection instrumentation saved their lives. Still, many questions remain. The instruments have been quarantined for investigation, and all eyes are on you. It’s your job to determine the type of gas released and the severity of employees’ exposure. At this moment, you realize the importance of industrial hygiene datalog monitoring.