KAY BECHTOLD is assistant editor of The Synergist
She can be reached at or (703) 846-0737.

At the end of May, approximately 5,000 industrial hygiene and occupational and environmental health and safety professionals will head for the hills—well, mountains—of Salt Lake City, Utah, for AIHce 2015, one of the most anticipated OEHS events of the year. Salt Lake City will play host to AIHce attendees for the second time since the conference began in 1939; AIHce was last held there in 1991. Pre-conference education will be held on Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and 31, and the main conference will take place Monday through Thursday, June 1–4. MOUNTAIN VIEWS AIHce 2015 will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center, which is located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, within walking distance to a diverse collection of restaurants, bars, and shopping locations. The city is also home to several museums, classic movie theaters, and venues featuring a variety of entertainment, including both professional and amateur theater. For attendees with a love of the outdoors, a visit to Yellowstone or Grand Canyon National Park may be in order. These and nineteen other national parks, monuments, and recreational sites are within a day’s drive from Salt Lake. 

To learn more about Salt Lake City, go to, a website created for AIHce attendees by the Salt Lake City Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more information on events taking place before, during, and after the conference, visit
Salt Lake Sneak Peek
What’s in Store at AIHce 2015
TOP-NOTCH EDUCATION An extensive selection of technical sessions makes up the main conference program at AIHce 2015 and covers more than 40 topic areas—from staples like controls and IH program management to emerging issues such as infectious disease, e-cigarettes, and climate change. Technical sessions come in a variety of formats to fit different learning styles, including interactive learning sessions, roundtables, EHS crossover programs, and podium and poster sessions.
AIHce 2015 will feature several sessions that address AIHA’s recently developed content priorities (read more in Barry Graffeo’s article “Six Priorities for IH Content Development” in the November issue). Four sessions form a track related to hazard banding/occupational exposure limit (OEL) process. The first session, “Occupational Exposure Banding: The Solution for the Glacial Pace of OELs,” will take place on Monday, June 1. This session has been designated as a “Science Symposium” and will provide an overview of various approaches to occupational exposure banding (OEB), including the NIOSH OEB decision process and new approaches for businesses. 
The track will continue on Tuesday with the roundtable “How Are Occupational Exposure Bands Being Used in Practice?” which will focus on how risk can be communicated using OEBs and their implementation in the workplace. Both of these sessions are being arranged by Lauralynn McKernan, ScD, CIH, Deputy Director of the Education and Information Division at NIOSH. Learn more about these technical sessions in the sidebar below.
The hazard banding/OEL process track will continue on Wednesday at 10 a.m. with the roundtable “Control Banding Applications in Laboratory Operations.” Attendees can wrap up this track on Thursday, June 4, at 1 p.m. with “Toxicological Challenges to the Derivation and Application of Occupational Exposure Limits,” a roundtable that will present case studies of chemicals for which such challenges have emerged.
Tuesday’s General Session, “Health & Safety Implications of the Fissured Workplace: A Conversation,” will kick off a separate track focused on another AIHA content priority: changing work force demographics. Work has changed dramatically in the past thirty years, and not just technologically. Contract work has become increasingly common, moving anything other than core operations to outside and independent contractors. This trend has major implications for the health and safety of employees. On June 2, two top U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) administrators—David Michaels, PhD, MPH, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, and David Weil, PhD, administrator of DOL’s Wage and Hour Division—will discuss challenges of the fissured workplace and creative ways to manage it. 
This year’s Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture will continue in the vein of changing work force demographics. The lecture, sponsored by the AIHA Social Concerns Committee, is in its fifteenth year, and honors journalists who have done outstanding reporting on OEHS issues. Journalist and author Michael Grabell of ProPublica was chosen for his work on the series “Temp Land: Working in the New Economy” and will present the Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture at AIHce 2015 on Tuesday, June 2, at 10:30 a.m.
The AIHce Movie Matinée will return on Wednesday, June 3, at 2:30 p.m., with a special screening of the documentary film “A Day’s Work,” which examines the changing nature of temporary work. The film’s director, Dave DeSario, will be present for an interactive discussion following the screening, where attendees can talk through the implications of changing work force demographics and related issues raised by the film.
For more information on the conference program, visit the AIHce 2015 website.

Registration for AIHce 2015 includes access to Stewardship 2015, a new conference for product stewardship professionals that is co-located with AIHce at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Stewardship offers a variety of education that addresses global issues such as banned/restricted substances, emerging regulatory issues, emerging articles regulations, hazard communication, and more. ON THE EXPO FLOOR AIHce 2015 exhibitors will promote the latest IH and OEHS products, services, and technologies, and the Expo will give attendees the chance to meet face-to-face with our partners in protecting worker health. Stop by the Expo floor to compare products and services; discover new tools, products, and services; and network and relax between sessions. Product demonstrations and presentations by exhibitors will take place in the Expo Learning Pavilion during select Expo-only hours. These presentations last 10–15 minutes, with an additional 10 minutes for attendees to ask questions.
As in years past, the Expo will be home to the technical and student poster sessions, where the latest research in industrial hygiene and occupational health and safety will be on display June 1–3. This year’s Expo will also feature a Web and software showcase, an interactive clandestine lab display, University Row, and daily prizes. All AIHce attendees will receive an AIHce 2015 Passport in their registration packets to participate in the “Passport to Prizes” drawing. Attendees will collect stamps from participating booths throughout the Expo and enter their Passport for a chance to win prizes. 
Visit the virtual Expo to learn more about the exhibitors who will be in Salt Lake City. The virtual Expo site includes an interactive map of the show floor to help attendees easily locate exhibitors on-site at AIHce 2015. NETWORKING GALORE In addition to its top-notch education program, networking is one of the most valuable aspects of attending AIHce. The conference offers a variety of organized networking opportunities, including open volunteer group meetings, student and young member functions, alumni gatherings, and ancillary-sponsored functions. This year, AIHce features a couple of new conference-wide events, including the first-ever Welcome Party on Sunday night, May 31, from 7 to 10 p.m. All attendees are invited to kick off the conference with food, drinks, and live music in downtown Salt Lake City. 
On Monday evening, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., reconnect with friends and meet new colleagues during the Expo Hall Networking Reception, a great opportunity to meet with exhibitors and browse the posters on display. The jointly sponsored MSA/AIHA Reception on Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. is another must-attend opportunity for meeting fellow AIHce attendees. 
Wednesday morning will feature another first-time event at AIHce: the Mark of Excellence Breakfast. This signature event will take place in lieu of the Wednesday morning General Session and will celebrate the extraordinary contributions made by members and the volunteer community to the industry and the profession. Don’t miss entertainment, awards, networking, and a delicious breakfast buffet at this brand-new event. The Mark of Excellence Breakfast is included in AIHce 2015 registration, but pre-registration is required. Learn more at the AIHce website.
The Personal AIHce Liaison (PAL) Program made its debut at AIHce 2014 with the goal of helping first-time attendees get the most out of the conference. Back by popular demand, the PAL Program matches “first timers”—new professional attendees and students—with seasoned AIHce attendees, or “PALs.” Interested attendees can sign up to participate when they register for the conference. AIHCE GOES SOCIAL Receive the latest news and updates about AIHce 2015 on Facebook. Be sure to follow AIHA on Twitter (@AIHA) and don’t forget to use the hashtag #AIHce when tweeting about the conference.
Attendees can use the new AIHce community and mobile app to make the most of their conference experience. This year’s app features new, improved functions and, because it’s Web-based, it’s available on all devices. As in years past, the app allows attendees to create and manage their schedule, view detailed session and exhibitor listings, and stay informed about the latest happenings at AIHce. 
New this year, attendees will be able to use the app to interact before they head to Salt Lake City by participating in discussions and groups housed within the app. This new feature extends to individual sessions; as attendees add sessions to their schedules, they will be able to discuss session topics with each other and with presenters, which will help speakers to better tailor their presentations to attendees’ professional needs. And there’s more: using the AIHce 2015 app, attendees can also schedule meetings with one another, a bonus convenience during the conference.
Look for the community and mobile app to be released this month. FIND OUT MORE Visit the conference website to register and find further information on AIHce. 
Those unable to travel to Salt Lake City can still participate via the AIHce Virtual Conference, which is also eligible for CM credits and COCs. Virtual AIHce 2015 registration includes a multitrack session broadcast; opportunities to submit questions for presenters and interact with other virtual participants via chat; and post-conference access to session recordings.
AIHce to Present Growing Evidence for Occupational Exposure Banding In a world in which the setting of occupational exposure limits (OELs) is at a glacial pace, and in which more products, raw materials, and isolated intermediates continue to be a source of exposure for workers, occupational hygienists need an alternate path to help assess the exposure risk of workers. AIHce 2015 will feature several technical sessions on the topic of occupational exposure banding, including two roundtables presented by a multidisciplinary group representing government, academia, consulting, small business, and industry. “Occupational Exposure Banding: The Solution for the Glacial Pace of OELs” will be held on Monday, June 1, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m., and will include discussion of the latest information on occupational exposure banding. On Tuesday, June 2, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., a second session, “How Are Occupational Exposure Bands Being Used in Practice?” will illustrate how occupational exposure banding is currently being used by several practitioners.
“Chemicals are being introduced into commerce at a rate that significantly outpaces the development of authoritative OELs,” says roundtable arranger and presenter Lauralynn McKernan, ScD, CIH, Deputy Director of the Education and Information Division at NIOSH. “The NIOSH occupational exposure banding process uses available toxicological data to create a range of concentrations, or an occupational exposure band (OEB), to control chemical exposures.” 
During both roundtables, presenters will demonstrate the need and application of occupational exposure banding in both small and large companies. Through OEBs, companies can protect their workers from many of the chemicals that lack OELs. NIOSH will share recent validation efforts used to further refine the NIOSH occupational exposure banding process. 
“The NIOSH occupational exposure banding process comprises a three-tiered evaluation system and can be performed by toxicologists, occupational hygienists, and health and safety specialists,” McKernan says. “Interest in occupational exposure banding has been growing dramatically as our profession looks for new tools to protect employees. The sessions at AIHce will provide valuable information on a new resource for our membership.”
The Synergist thanks Lauralynn McKernan for her contributions to this article.
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