By Ron McMahan
Industries and Environment
SGS North America Innovations

I was pleased to see the industrial hygiene community get a big boost recently when the Biden administration called on business and school leaders to act on improving indoor air quality in their buildings. The “White House Summit on Improving Indoor Air Quality” was held October 12 as a follow-up to the “Clean Air in Buildings Challenge”, launched earlier this year.

After so many years of government and industry’s focus on outdoor air standards, recognizing that we spend most of our time indoors is welcome. COVID-19 brought this awareness to the forefront, but of course, airborne diseases have been around forever.

Speakers at the White House event, from the government and the private sector, declared that:

  • Indoor air is “the next frontier for public health policy”,
  • that “the person who manages your building has a bigger impact on your health than your doctor”,
  • that “buildings are the first line of defense in keeping workers healthy”,
  • and that “IAQ monitoring should be the norm in every building”.

If the above sounds familiar, you’re probably part of the industrial hygiene community. At the White House event, David Michaels PhD, MPH, epidemiologist, professor and Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, 2009-2017, confirmed that understanding how COVID spreads has evolved to where aerosols, expelled by breathing, “accumulate in the air, leading to greater exposures, very much like industrial chemicals, for example.” He continued, “We know from basic industrial hygiene principles, that to protect workers and others in indoor environments, the most effective approach is the hierarchy of controls, which says that before you change the worker, before you change the person by having them wear PPE, first change the environment, in this case, clean the air.

Your clients depend on you to evaluate and mitigate workplace hazards that cause illness and/or discomfort in the workplace. Exposure risks associated with indoor air quality may be your most significant measure of what is causing these issues, and IAQ methods and solutions continue to improve and get more sophisticated.

I recently gave an AIHA webinar about an ongoing project where SGS Galson has placed our SmartSense continuous air monitors throughout the Boston Public Schools and the lessons we learned from calibrating 4,500 of them in 60 days. One of the lessons, actually confirmation of what I was already sure of, is that industrial hygienists, especially more CIHs, are the solution to providing the process and procedures resulting in sound data to meet the Biden administration’s IAQ challenge. Without industrial hygienists, this moment, of designating clean indoor air a key to worker, student, and everyone’s health, will be just another blip on the radar.

To view the AIHA webinar, “Calibrating 4500 Air Monitors in 60 Days Lessons Learned: Where IAQ is not your basic IAQ anymore,” click here.

As industrial hygienists are given the opportunity to lead on this vital issue, SGS Galson is positioned to support you like no other laboratory can. Our ability to provide all the solution sets to perform particulate measurement, including continuous monitoring, the best laboratory standards and methodology and calibrated rental instruments, cost-effectively, sets us apart. Additionally, as an SGS company, we provide the full range of water, soil, waste, and other environmental analysis.

Let’s meet this challenge together. Please contact me or your SGS representative any time to learn about our solutions and how they will meet your specific needs.


We are SGS – the world’s leading inspection, testing and certification company.

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