programs, and manage widely varying
work loads. Increased focus on quality
assurance programs by AIHA® and other
accrediting bodies provides the framework for standardizing services and continually increasing the reliability of
The ongoing challenges of operating a
laboratory facility are primarily related
to acquiring and sustaining employee
talent and maintaining customer loyalty.
Employee talent and dedication is the
laboratory’s primary resource. To serve
the industrial hygiene analysis needs of
its customers, laboratory personnel must
be able to understand and interpret the
needs of the professionals in the field.
Often, field personnel may not know
their options until they discuss project
parameters with laboratory personnel.
The highest level of dedication, interaction and performance is achieved when
the industrial hygienist and laboratory
personnel consider themselves to be critical members of the same team. A team-oriented culture exists in a laboratory
One of laboratories’ biggest concerns
is that IH professionals tend to collect
too few samples for statistical analysis.
Inquiries to laboratories, such as how
to obtain more samples, are rarely made.
when discussions revolve around project
performance and objectives versus doing
“what the customer wants.”
To create a team environment, commu-
nication within the laboratory is just as
important as with field personnel. The lab-
oratory environment can be fast-paced,
and lab personnel must react quickly to
changes, especially when projects involve
Table 1. Commonly Used Direct-Read Instruments
Direct-Read Instrument Description
Used to estimate particle concentrations in air. Particle size-
selective samplers or particle-size-range-specific instruments
can be used to evaluate particulate levels. Results should be
typically evaluated on an aggregate basis, as airborne levels
are not particle-type specific.
Total VOC Monitors (e.g.,
Air concentrations of certain vapors and gases can be estimated from knowledge of chemicals of interest and respective ionization potentials. Technique is not generally
considered to be chemical specific.
Wide variety of chemical-specific sensors available. Often
used for screening for high levels of substances that could be
of immediate health or safety concern.
Technology is used to provide information regarding elemen-
tal concentrations of bulk materials, coatings, dust(s) and
sampled particulates. Safety training and licensing is required
to operate instruments.
special requirements, multiple types of
analysis, or multi-phased programs.
A critical component of communication and quality assurance/control programs is the laboratory information
system, which should be flexible enough
to handle lab data in multiple formats,
perform calculations, generate reports,
and, in addition, serve as a customer relationship management tool. Because no
off-the-shelf systems can meet the industrial hygiene laboratory’s information
technology requirements, the laboratory
must maintain a dynamic team of hybrid
information technology and lab specialists. It is essential that the systems created and maintained by this team are
transparent and potentially easy to interface by the customer.
Another unique challenge often faced
by a laboratory is meeting the peaks and
valleys of demand for analytical services.
This is extremely critical in emergency
situations like the 9/11 disaster and the
issues that arise from the current oil contamination that is occurring in the Gulf
of Mexico. Laboratory management must
be able to juggle staffing and resource
requirements necessary to provide rapid
analyses over a considerable time frame.
This is complicated by the issues revolving around instrument-, method- and
technique-specific training and performance qualifications that individuals must
have to perform analyses for which the
laboratory is AIHA accredited.
Infrared (IR) and Raman
Infrared and Raman spectrometers can provide chemical
species information in specific situations. Typically used for
sampling surfaces and also some gases (IR).
With their added responsibilities and
unique skills, industrial hygienists are
often asked to solve problems that lie
outside traditional occupational safety