Northwest Convergence

Innovation, integration, inspiration--and wood dust--will be in the spotlight this month at the 72nd American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition.

The city of Portland, Ore., has a number of claims to fame, not least of which are its timbered views, savory foods, and bounteous brews. But for about a week this month it also will be ground zero for the largest industrial hygiene show of the year when AIHce 2011 puts down stakes at the Oregon Convention Center, May 14-19.

Billed as "the must-attend event for occupational & environmental health & safety professionals," the conference, now celebrating its 72nd anniversary, represents a return to the Pacific Northwest for co-sponsors AIHA and ACGIH, which first held their gathering in this City of Roses in 1981.

The IH industry has evolved dramatically in the 30 years since, and this show has kept pace, annually adding to its offerings and making use of the latest technological tools.

This year, in addition to providing 115 technical sessions, 69 professional development courses, and a three-day expo with more than 300 companies on hand, the conference will feature a "virtual expo," which allows registrants to search for companies, products, and services; an enhanced "eProgram Planner," with which users can build a custom itinerary; a number of "eAbstracts" and "eHandouts," which are electronic materials that can easily be transferred, stored, and retained; and "AIHce ON DEMAND," which allows registrants to download multimedia technical sessions to their computers, laptops, iPods, or iPads. In addition, organizers have installed an onsite "Laptop Lounge" and multiple cyber/message centers with complimentary Web access.

Failure Not an Option
In keeping with this year's theme--"Innovate. Integrate. Inspire."--the conference will host a lineup of keynote speakers whose work has embodied those three verbs.

Former NASA flight control director Gene Kranz will command the podium for the opening general session, Monday, May 16, from 8-9:30 a.m. Best known as the leader of the "Tiger Team" of flight directors who brought the imperiled Apollo 13 spacecraft and its crew of three astronauts back to Earth, Kranz received a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role in that mission and later landed on the New York Times bestseller list for his book Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. Following the opening session, he will be signing copies of that book at the AIHA booth (913) on the expo floor.

For the May 17 general session, from 8-9 a.m., the speaker will be Michael P. Wilson, Ph.D., MPH, associate director for integrative sciences at UC Berkeley's new Center for Green Chemistry. His address, "Green Chemistry: A Strategic Opportunity for Industrial Hygiene," will revolve around the fact that 74 billion pounds of industrial chemicals enter the United States daily. Many of these are toxic, and most will survive long enough to impact the planet. Considering that global chemical production will double in the next 24 years, Wilson will discuss the role IH professionals have in helping businesses understand green chemistry’s potential for reducing or eliminating worker exposures, improving product stewardship and innovation, and accelerating competitive advantage.

OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels, Ph.D., MPH, will take the stage for the May 18 general session, 8-9 a.m., discussing OSHA's initiatives, challenges, and directions. In particular, he will focus on how the agency’s current programs and those planned for the future may affect occupational and environmental health and safety professionals. As part of his presentation, he will field questions from the audience.

Dust Cause
As an added bonus to this year's conference, the 2nd International Symposium on Wood Dust will take place concurrently at the convention center May 17-18. According to organizers, a possible 45 million workers worldwide are exposed daily to wood dust, and it has increasingly been implicated in workplace respiratory issues and diseases.

Sponsored by AIHA, NIOSH, the American Forest & Paper Association, the Center for Construction Research and Training, and others, the symposium will feature experts discussing the latest developments in the wood dust domain, including risk assessment and management, controls, particle characterization, sampling and analysis, and exposure assessment. The symposium is offered as an optional, stand-alone event at AIHce and is included in the general conference registration fee. A separate registration is available for those who would like to attend the wood dust symposium only. More details on the event are available at www.WoodDust2011.org.

For complete information about AIHce 2011, including registration forms, a schedule and description of courses, CM point availability, a hotel locator, and a rundown of social and technical tours, visit www.AIHce2011.org.

Next year's conference and expo will take place for the first time ever in Indianapolis, June 2-7. The year after that, AIHce 2013 will convene in Montreal, May 18-23.

This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Ronnie Rittenberry is Managing Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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