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EDWARD J. BAIER TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD This award was founded in 1984 in honor of Edward J. Baier, AIHA’s thirty-ninth president. The award is given to the individual or group of individuals, company, academic institution, organization, or association that has made the most significant contribution to industrial hygiene in recent years through technical expertise, technological innovations, research and scientific advancements in the field of industrial hygiene, and interaction with or influence on other scientific disciplines. The recipient of the 2015 Baier Award is the NIOSH Nanotechnology Field Research Team. Charles L. Geraci, PhD, CIH, accepted the award on behalf of the team at AIHce 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Geraci has been a member of AIHA since 1977 and was elected a Fellow in 1999. How many members are on the NIOSH Nanotechnology Field Research Team and how are they chosen? NIOSH has enjoyed having a number of very talented professionals on the Nanotechnology Field Research Team from its inception in early 2006. The team has grown from the original two members—me and my first team leader—to a group of practitioners distributed across three areas of investigation. Our three areas of investigation are Exploratory Investigations, in which we evaluate new nanomaterials or processes we have not experienced in the past; the Carbon Nanotubes/Nanofibers industry-wide study, in which we are evaluating the exposure and health experience of a specific set of workers in a high-profile area; and our Nanomaterial Controls team, which evaluates the efficacy of engineering controls for the containment and control of nanomaterials. Currently, we have eight people dedicated regularly to these teams, with any number of NIOSH scientists available on an as-needed basis. Since 2006, we have had over 20 NIOSH researchers involved. Early in the process, team membership was on a voluntary basis, with Dr. Mark Methner as the first field team leader. Membership on the teams then became a matter of meeting the need as it arose, and deliberate staffing of focused research areas. How has the team worked with AIHA in the past? Specific to nanotechnology, the field team developed the first-ever PDC on nanomaterial exposure assessment for AIHce 2008. Several team members have been active on the AIHA Nanotechnology Working Group since its formation. Team members have been active contributors to the technical sessions at AIHce, and we are regular speakers and instructors for AIHA local sections. You will find that the members of the field team have made significant contributions to AIHA and the profession over the years. Please give us three words to describe how you feel about being selected to receive this award at AIHce. Honored, proud, humbled. What significance does receiving this award hold for you? Receiving this award comes with a lot of emotion for me. When Dr. Howard gave me approval to create a field team in early 2006 to study nanomaterials in the workplace, it was a very bold move and came with a lot of risk. We were convinced that the best way to evaluate this new technology was to create partnerships with private companies who were making and using nanomaterials. It turned out to be a tremendous amount of effort, but in the end we knew it was the right way to take on the challenge. Over time, we gained a reputation for being truly collaborative and helpful. For me, personally, and for all the field team members, this is a great honor to be recognized by our peers as leaders in an area where there truly was no road map to follow. There is some additional significance in that Ed Baier, who passed away recently, served as the first Deputy Director of NIOSH at a time when the culture of the Institute was taking shape, and Ed had a lot of influence on that. Read more about NIOSH nanotechnology research on the agency’s website.
Mark of Excellence
Editor’s note: The Mark of Excellence is a monthly feature, special to the digital Synergist, honoring the recipients of the 2015 AIHA and ACGIH awards. Other awardees featured in this series include Noel Tresider, CIH, COH (Yant Award) and Garret D. Brown, MPH, CIH (Steiger Award); Renee Anthony, PhD, CIH (Hamilton Award) and Nigel Walker, PhD, DABT (Stokinger Award); Christine A. Hoehn, CIH (Kusnetz Award) and R. Todd Niemeier, MS, CIH (Bloomfield Award); Andre Dufresne, PhD, CIH (Cummings Award) and D. Jeff Burton, MS, PE (ACGIH Meritorious Achievement Award); and Thomas G. Grumbles, CIH (AIHA Distinguished Service Award) and CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training (Social Responsibility Award).
Charles L. Geraci, PhD, CIH Manager, NIOSH Nanotechnology Field Research Team
DIGITAL EXTRA
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DIGITAL EXTRA
DIGITAL EXTRA
What Kind of Near-miss Was Ebola? As I write this in mid-October 2014, Americans are still getting used to the new and scary risk of Ebola. Ebola fears led to a number of airline passengers being yanked off planes because they exhibited flu-like symptoms and had some connection, however remote, to Africa. So far they’ve all tested negative for Ebola. If that remains true, the number of such disruptions will soon decline precipitously. 
Are these events warnings that we should continue to take seriously, “casting a wide net” to reduce the odds of missing an actual Ebola case onboard? Or are they false alarms that we should learn to stop worrying about? Most experts, officials, and journalists say they’re false alarms. But that answer will change in hindsight if a traveler from West Africa ever infects some fellow passengers with Ebola.
Ebola also offers an object lesson in learned overconfidence. The discovery that two nurses were infected with the virus while treating an Ebola sufferer at a Dallas hospital raised many questions. Did the nurses breach PPE protocols? Were the protocols insufficiently protective in the first place? Is it realistic to expect healthcare workers to be 100 percent meticulous in following such protocols? 
One relevant fact: every nurse has considerable experience with breaches of infection control protocols that didn’t end in infection. And all too often the lesson learned isn’t that “We need to be more meticulous.” It is that “Infection control is pretty forgiving. Even when we mess up, it doesn’t usually do any harm.” Then along comes a much less forgiving pathogen, Ebola, and learned overconfidence becomes life-threatening.
Peter Sandman