Industrial Hygienists

By emilee | May 22, 2013

Industrial HygieneIf you’re looking to start a promising career where you help out the environment and the health of the public, then a career as an industrial hygienists may be the perfect fit for you. Known as occupational hygienists throughout much of Europe, it is the job of industrial hygienists evaluate, anticipate and determine when environmental hazards exist in the workplace. Without their help, many workers could be exposed to hazardous materials while on the job without even knowing it. There are plenty of places that offer industrial hygiene services, so lets examine a few key examples of how industrial hygienists help identify hazardous substances that save lives.

Asbestos

Throughout much of the early 1900s, asbestos was widely used as an insulator and was added in many homes and workplace facilities. It was cheap and it worked well enough to be made for the masses. It was later discovered that asbestos is associated with diseases of the lungs, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Now that its identified as a hazardous substance, it’s the job of industrial hygienists to identify where asbestos exists, or where it could exist, and the proper methods for removal of the asbestos.

Lead

We all know how dangerous lead is for the human body, and it’s the jobs of industrial hygienists to make sure workers and residents are not exposed to lead. We all associate lead with old paint used before 1978, however lead can be found in the pipes used in buildings, the soil surrounding the building and in the groundwater. Levels that were once deemed safe a decade ago are no longer considered safe, so industrial hygienists do rigorous testing for lead when inspecting a property.

Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring carcinogen that we are exposed to on a daily basis. It often seeps from the soil and into the air, but it comes up in such small quantities that it has very little impact on our daily lives. However, when older buildings are not built properly, radon can seep through cracks and into the homes, and the building becomes a radon greenhouse that workers spend hours at a time in. Radon test kits exist for home owners and property owners, but they are not the same from what industrial hygienists use, and they can detect unsafe levels over the counter methods cannot detect.

How Do I get started?

It’s important to have a solid background and knowledge of the basic sciences, occupational diseases, health hazards, working environments, and program management principles. Much of these are achieved through undergraduate study of civil or environmental engineering, however there are many academic programs throughout the United States that offer industrial hygiene Bachelors or Masters degrees. There are plenty of companies that provide these industrial hygiene services around the country, and it’s often best to find one that offers internships that could potential lead to full time employment.

is a blogger who enjoys writing about environmental products, services, people and solutions to help make a more sustainable world.

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