The Washington State Convention Center is located in downtown Seattle and hosts AIHce 2017. (Washington State Convention Center photo)

AIHce 2017 Under Way in Seattle

SEATTLE – The 2017 AIHce EXP conference got fully under way on June 5 as thousands of industrial hygienists and EHS industry professionals gathered here, filling the opening session and the expo hall inside the Washington State Convention Center. They enjoyed beautiful weather for the first full-scale day of this 79th annual AIHce, which has brought more than 4,000 participants to Seattle from 35 countries.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists co-host this annual conference, and it never fails to deliver a strong educational program touching on the latest detection technologies and techniques and current issues, from GHS and nanotechnology to infectious diseases, occupational exposure banding, beryllium and respirable crystalline silica regulations, and exposure management this year. More than one session here is focused on potential exposures from 3D printers, and both the 17th annual Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture and a regular session, both on Tuesday, are focused on a resurgence of black lung cases among coal miners.

There are even “Late Night Learning Sessions” this year from 8 to 10 p.m. both Monday and Tuesday, one about “After Hour Ethics” and the other titled “A Little Risk in the Night.”

Steven Lacey, Ph.D., CIH, CSP, president of the AIHA board of directors, greeted a full ballroom for Monday’s opening general session, telling the attendees, “It’s been a great year for AIHA.” He discussed several initiatives to encourage high school students to pursue industrial hygiene careers, including Safety Matters and the IH Heroes campaign. “We have a fantastic story to tell, but we haven’t been telling anyone about that story,” Lacey said, adding that if AIHA members are going to continue to champion safety and health excellence, they need to reach out to young people and introduce this profession and career to them.

Larry Sloan, CAE, the chief executive officer of AIHA, explained his four goals for AIHA this year, including “reenergizing and growing our membership” and developing stronger ties and collaboration with AIHA local sections.

The morning’s keynote speaker was Ken Jennings, an author and speaker best known for winning 74 consecutive games on the TV show Jeopardy! Funny and entertaining, he shared some of his life story and his and other contestants’ rationale for learning facts for their own sake. For this audience, his message held some warnings about the increasing power and competition from computers, but he stressed that the human brain always will have advantages over what computers can do – this, from a computer science major who famously lost a Jeopardy! game to IBM’s Watson computer.

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