Established in 1943 as a tribute to AIHA’s third president, the Donald E. Cummings Memorial Award recognizes an AIHA member’s outstanding lifetime contributions to the knowledge and practice of industrial hygiene. The Cummings Award also honors the recipients’ demonstrated practical application of IH knowledge to protect worker health and acknowledges these contributions outside of the field of IH—in EHS, occupational health, public health, or business, for example. Recipients of the award present the Cummings Memorial Lecture at AIHce. The recipient of the 2015 Cummings Memorial Award is André Dufresne, PhD, CIH, of Montreal, Québec, Canada. Dufresne has worked in the IH profession since 1978. In 2008, he became professor and director at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Université de Montréal, and was active until his retirement in 2014. View the complete list of Cummings Award winners on AIHA’s website. How long have you been a member of AIHA? I’d say around 15 years. In three words, please describe how you feel about being selected to receive this award. Landmark: I am privileged to be the recipient of this award among many applicants. Honor: the selection committee added my name to this prestigious list of superstars in industrial hygiene. Recognition: in this distinction, I see the recognition from my peers. What significance does receiving this award hold for you? Being the first French Canadian to receive this international recognition is very exciting. However, I receive this award with great humility and want to share it with all the people who were behind me during my entire career, especially my colleagues at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health of the Université de Montréal for their unwavering support during the implementation of our new French master’s program in industrial hygiene. What advice would you give to a young professional in the field of IH/OH? If you like science and if you like to work with people, go for the industrial hygiene profession. I would also tell them that an essential skill as an IH is the ability to collaborate. What year was the Occupational Hygiene Instrumentation Laboratory founded, and what function does it serve for occupational hygiene today? In 2010, the first graduate program in the French language in North America was launched in the Université de Montréal’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. Since then, three laboratories dedicated to teaching chemical and biological hazards, physical hazards, and control of hazards have been created, along with a major research laboratory mainly dedicated to research on nanoparticles. Today, the director of these laboratories is Professor Maximilien Debia.
Mark of Excellence
MERITORIOUS ACHIEVEMENT AWARD The Meritorious Achievement Award is given to members of ACGIH who have made outstanding, long-term contributions to the field of occupational health and industrial hygiene. The recipient of the 2015 Meritorious Achievement Award is D. Jeff Burton, MS, PE, who has been a member of ACGIH since 1991. Burton is also an AIHA Fellow. Read more on ACGIH’s website. In three words, please describe how you feel about being selected to receive this award. Humbled, thankful, anxious. What significance does receiving this award hold for you? It is a true honor to be selected for this award, and greatly appreciated. What advice would you give to a young professional in the field of IH/OH?
  1. Obtain broad experience in the beginning of your career.
  2. Specialize in one or two IH topics as your career matures.
  3. Join and participate actively in our professional associations, ACGIH and AIHA.
  4. Get appropriate certifications and licenses.
  5. Regularly take continuing education courses and keep up on the OEHS literature.
  6. Join technical and standards-setting committees.
D. Jeff Burton, MS, PE
Editor’s note: The Mark of Excellence is a monthly feature, special to the digital Synergist, that honors the recipients of the 2015 AIHA and ACGIH awards. Two individuals will be featured each month.
André Dufresne, PhD, CIH
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