April 16, 2020 (Falls Church, VA)—As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, so does misinformation on personal protective equipment (PPE), decontamination, and indoor air quality. These misunderstandings are putting healthcare workers and the general public at an even greater risk. The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has launched a public education effort to provide expertise and clarification on critical resources, including properly selecting, fitting, and decontaminating PPE; measuring and treating indoor air; and surface disinfection.
“New information about this pandemic is released every day. But we are finding that misuse of PPE, and improper decontamination techniques, may be putting our public and our healthcare workers at increased risks,” explains AIHA Board President Kathleen Murphy, CIH. “Our occupational health and safety experts—more traditionally known as industrial hygienists—are experts in reducing risks and preventing accidents. We also understand the pressures these crises have on the mental health of workers.”
The AIHA is urging the public to go to their online directory to connect with a local industrial hygienist. It has also developed a Coronavirus Outbreak Resource Center, a series of free resources, including:
- Recovering from COVID-19 Building Closures: This guidance document, developed by the AIHA Indoor Environmental Quality committee, outlines the way businesses, schools, resorts, and other facilities that have been deemed “nonessential” during this COVID-19 pandemic could manage risks when they are ready to be reoccupied.
- Respirator Fit Testing Specialists: Find a specialist who can perform proper respirator fit testing from the AIHA’s 2020 Consultants Listing.
- Proper use of respirators for healthcare workers and first responders that illustrates the drastic difference of respirators versus masks.
- Ventilation, Surface Disinfection and PPE Considerations for the IP and IH webinar: This town hall-style webinar, cohosted by the AIHA and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), addressed occupational health and safety professionals’, industrial hygienists’, and infection preventionists’ questions about ventilation, surface disinfection, respirators, construction issues, and occupational health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- JOEH Articles Related to COVID-19: The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) has provided access to articles in its inventory to help hygienists, healthcare workers, allied professionals, and the public. These articles, both peer-reviewed research articles and commentaries from specialists in these areas, provide information relevant to making decisions on infection control practices.
About the AIHA
The AIHA is a professional association for occupational health and safety scientists who are committed to preserving and ensuring health and safety in the workplace and community. Founded in 1939, the AIHA supports its members with its expertise, network, comprehensive education programs, and other products and services that help them maintain the highest professional standards.
More than half of the AIHA’s nearly 8,500 members are certified industrial hygienists, and many hold other professional designations. The AIHA serves as a resource for those employed in the industrial, consulting, academic, and government sectors. For more information, please visit www.aiha.org.