An IH at the March for Science
Editor’s note: Colin Brigham’s report on the March for Science was originally published on the SynergistNOW blog. Dear Editor: I was one of approximately 40,000 participants (six from my church, the United Church of Christ in Valley Forge, Pa.) in the March for Science on Saturday, April 22, 2017, braving the rain most of the day. My church members included an engineer from Unisys, his coworker, the wife of a pharmaceutical firm VP for manufacturing, an IT project consultant, a pharmaceutical research scientist, his daughter (a mathematics teacher), and me. We all believe that our country's policies should be guided by science, not the fiction of alternative facts.
At day’s end our hope was that our voices were heard about the need to more fully use scientific evidence regarding legislation affecting our work environments.
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As some of our photos show, scientists (including industrial hygienists!) can be a creative and comedic crowd. Scientists are generally organized finders of facts and disseminators of evidence. One photo shows the teach-in schedule, with eight tents set up offering presentations of up to an hour in length from 9 a.m. until about 12:20 p.m. I attended the “Creek Critters” session, which presented an app that has been developed to help identify and classify small animal life in streams, an indicator of water quality. It brought me back to my college days, my undergraduate environmental degree, and my first few years of professional practice.
Proudly wearing a lab coat given to me by the AIHA, I held conversations with my friends from church, others who joined us in the march, and some of the march organizers. Some knew little or nothing about our profession but were interested to learn. I thoroughly enjoyed the very long day (leaving home at 3:30 a.m. and returning at 11 p.m.) and the beauty and majesty of downtown Washington, D.C. At day’s end our hope was that our voices were heard about the need to more fully use scientific evidence regarding legislation affecting our work environments, which, in the case of industrial hygienists, consists of the whole world around us. Colin J. Brigham, CIH, CSP, CPE, CPEA, CSPHP, FAIHA Editor’s note: Elliot Stein’s suggestion of a new title for IH professionals continues a discussion that appeared in the letters section of the March issue. Dear Editor: I have been in the occupational and environmental health and safety profession for over 25 years. In most of those years I have held the job title of “industrial hygienist.” In small organizations, most people generally are aware of what my job functions are, but in larger organizations most aren’t aware and are mystified by my job title. In terms of the general population, most people assume “industrial hygienists” have some sanitation function associated with industrial or healthcare settings. A few wonder if it is connected with being a sanitarian (an older name for a public health inspector dating to state “sanitary” or health codes originating in the 19th century).
To counter the public health misconception of the older name of “sanitarian,” which connotes a limited scope of function, some professionals in public health now use the title “environmental health specialist/registered environmental health specialist,” which implies a broader range of responsibilities and knowledge. In my opinion, a more representative name for industrial hygienists would be occupational health practitioner/certified occupational health practitioner. This title is related to what industrial hygienists actually do and would offer a name that corresponds with job function and responsibilities. Elliot Stein, MPH, CIH, CSP, REHS