IAQRadio – The Science of Guidelines and Standards

Mary S. Lopez, PhD, CPE & Michael J. Ellenbecker, ScD, CIH

ACGIH Chair & Immediate Past Chair

The Science of Guidelines and Standards 

COL (Ret) Mary S. Lopez, PHD, CPE the 2020 Chair of the ACGIH, Michael J. Ellenbocker, ScD, CIH immediate past ACGIH Chair and Frank Mortl III, CAE Executive Director of ACGIH guested on today’s episode of IAQradio.
Nuggets mined from today’s episode:
Mary- The US Army uses ACGIH for guidance on heat exposure, chemical exposure, lasers, vibration, etc. Mary became involved with ACGIH when she was invited to join the group’s ergonomics committee. She is a passionate supporter of ACGIH because it is the only organization in the world that makes recommendations based on science. ACGIH only looks at the science. ACGIH does not have regulatory authority. ACGIH does make an important contribution by protecting worker health.
Mike- After becoming a CIH in 1982, Mike joined ACGIH. At that time membership was restricted to government industrial hygienists. ACGIH is a small and important organization. “ACGIH® publishes guidelines known as Threshold Limit Values (TLVs®) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs®) for use by industrial hygienists in making decisions regarding safe levels of exposure to various chemical and physical agents found in the workplace.”
ACGIH’s work protects workers and the general public. It is important for scientists to step forward and do volunteer work for ACGIH. ACGIH’s guidelines are intended for use by trained people. ACGIH does not suggest that their TLVs and BEIs be used as legal standards.
Mary- ACGIH’s recommendations are based on science. While ACGIH has no enforcement authority; ACGIH’s TLVs and BEIs are used by people, organizations and countries as standards.
Mike- ACGIH begancreatingworker exposure guidelines in the 1940s. OSHA has only been setting PELs since 1970-71. The PELs set by OSHA are legally enforceable. ACGIH works faster and nimbler than OSHA. While ACGIH gets 25 new or revised TLVs into the hands of IHs annually, OSHA has only set 25 PELs in 50 years.
Mary- ACGIH’s is nimble and responsive to new chemicals and new technologies. OSHA relied upon ACGIH’s work on heat stress. ACGIH’s management consensus process results is a reliable trusted resource based on science.
Mike- TLVs are based on healthy workers (aged 20-60) work and exposures of 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. When exposures are longer, exposure limits should be lower. TLVs are not applicable to children or people with chronic illness where exposure guidelines would be much lower.
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