Howard's Keynote Focused on Next 75 Years

Saying bio 3D manufacturing and the ability to manufactur with metal alloys already have been demonstrated, he urges his AIHce 2014 audience to prepare for new challenges.

SAN ANTONIO -- NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard urged his keynote speech's audience of industrial hygienists June 3 to expand their competency to safeguard workers' health as rapidly as the challenges of accomplishing that goal are growing. His wide-ranging speech, partly a detailed account of the 75-year history of AIHA and partly a look ahead to imminent challenges and those that may be 75 years in the future, highlighted fast-moving advancements in the use of 3D manufacturing in particular.

Bio 3D manufacturing already has been demonstrated, heralding an era when human organs are created in labs and used for drug testing, transplants, and other purposes, he said. Howard said Audi also has manufactured an automobile with 3D technology and included metal alloys in it, showing how the manufacturing expertise has moved beyond plastics.

"Things are happening even faster now, and we have to think faster," Howard said after his talk, when asked whether 3D manufacturing and nanotechnology applications are moving forward so fast that they're outstripping the profession's ability to understand their potential hazards. He mentioned asbestos as an example of widespread hazardous exposures occurring before the hazards were well understood and said NIOSH's NORA program is looking at the potential health effects of "newfangled" manufacturing technologies such as 3D manufacturing; NIOSH personnel are investigating nanomaterials' impacts, and several employees are presenting papers on that topic here today at the 2014 American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo, where Howard was the keynoter.

Industrial hygienists' core mission will change in the decades ahead, he told the audience, specifically as the era of personal sampling gives way to the era of continuous monitoring, possibly done by nano sensors that move around and download data continuously for evaluation.

Howard's keynote this morning was titled "Evolution and Journey to a Safer Tomorrow," which is the theme of this conference.

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