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The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®) is a professional association of industrial hygienists and practitioners of related professions, with headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. One of its goals is to advance worker protection by providing timely, objective, scientific information to occupational and environmental health professionals.
The National Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (NCGIH) convened on June 27, 1938, in Washington, D.C. NCGIH's original constitution limited full membership to two representatives from each governmental industrial hygiene agency. Associate membership was made available to other professional personnel of the agencies holding full memberships, and also to personnel of educational institutions engaged in teaching industrial hygiene. Governmental industrial hygiene personnel of other countries were eligible for affiliated membership.
The Conference came into being with 59 members, one affiliated member, and 16 associate members. Forty-three members, one associate and six guests, attended the initial Conference. All but five of the members were from health departments. The New York and Massachusetts state labor departments had two each present, and there was one from the West Virginia state compensation commission.
At the end of World War II, many individuals were leaving governmental employment and membership in the Conference declined from the peak of 281 in 1944 to 235 in 1946. Changes due to the transition to a peacetime economy, the development of other professional associations, and changes in the technical and administrative needs of state and local agencies, required the Conference to revise its constitution and make some major changes in its organizational structure.
The 1946 constitution revisions abandoned the concept of limiting full membership to only two individuals from each governmental industrial hygiene agency. This opened the doors to all of their professional personnel to participate in the activities of the organization on an equal basis. Governmental industrial hygiene personnel from foreign countries were also given the right to full membership. These changes, among others, were to have a salutary effect on the organization which, in 1946, changed its name to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®).
In the mid 1950s, steady growth in membership resumed and by 1960 there were 511 members, including 54 from other countries. During the next decade these numbers more than doubled and in 1977 the total reached 1,800, of which 166 were from outside the United States.
For over 75 years, ACGIH® has been dedicated to the industrial hygiene and occupational and environmental health and safety communities. They have grown and expanded without losing sight of their original goal - to encourage the interchange of experience among industrial hygiene workers and to collect and make accessible such information and data as might be of aid to them in the proper fulfillment of their duties. This original goal is reflected in both their current mission - the advancement of occupational and environmental health - and in their tagline: Defining the Science of Occupational and Environmental Health.
This scientific information is provided to members and others in the industry through our journal, professional conferences and seminars, as well as through a vast list of technical and scientific publications, including the TLVs® and BEIs® book.
Presently, nine ACGIH® committees focus their energies on a range of topics: agricultural safety and health, air sampling instruments, bioaerosols, biological exposure indices, industrial ventilation, international, small business, chemical substance TLVs®, and physical agent TLVs®.
The Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene journal, was published from 1990 through 2003 and was formerly published as Applied Industrial Hygiene from 1986 through 1989. This ACGIH® peer-reviewed journal provided scientific information and data to members until ACGIH® and AIHA began publishing a joint journal.
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) is a joint publication of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and ACGIH®. JOEH is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to enhancing the knowledge and practice of occupational and environmental hygiene and safety by widely disseminating research articles and applied studies of the highest quality.
Published monthly, JOEH provides a written medium for the communication of ideas, methods, processes, and research in the areas of occupational, industrial, and environmental hygiene; exposure assessment; engineering controls; occupational and environmental epidemiology, medicine and toxicology; ergonomics; and other related disciplines.
The activities of each Committee are directed by an individual mission statement.
Agricultural Safety & Health Committee
Mission - To promote those activities and programs necessary to our suited for agriculture or agro-business and to increase awareness of occupational health, safety. and environmental issues affecting this underserved population worldwide.
Air Sampling Instruments Committee
Mission - To report on the availability, efficiency, use, and limitations of existing and new sampling methodology and instrumentation.
Bioaerosols Committee Mission - To compile and disseminate information on biologically derived contaminants that may become airborne, to develop recommendations for assessment, control, remediation, and prevention of such hazards, and to establish criteria for bioaerosol exposure limits.
Biological Exposure Indices Committee Mission - To develop occupational biological exposure guidelines that are scientifically valid and supported by professional judgment, up-to-date, well-documented, understandable and clear, and produced by a clearly-defined process that is balanced and free of conflict of interest.
Mission - To provide a safe and healthful environment by integrating state-of-the-art information from government and industry sources, using them to develop and recommend ventilation and other engineering controls to capture, collect, filter, and remove airborne contaminants from the workplace.
Mission - To help develop and support ACGIH®'s international initiatives.
Small Business Committee
Mission - To develop and disseminate practical information that operators of small businesses and their employees can apply to the recognition, evaluation, and control of workplace hazards; and to assist and education safety and health professionals in working with small business concerns.
Threshold Limit Values for Chemicals Substances Committee
Mission - To recommend airborne concentrations of agents and exposure conditions for use in the practice of industrial hygiene and by other qualified professionals to protect worker health.
Threshold Limit Values for Physical Agents Committee
Mission - To develop and disseminate occupational exposure guidelines that are evidence-based, scientifically valid, and rigorously review.
ACGIH® establishes the Threshold Limit Values ("TLVs®") for chemical substances and physical agents and Biological Exposure Indices ("BEIs®").
The Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances (TLV®-CS) Committee was established in 1941. This group was charged with investigating, recommending, and annually reviewing exposure limits for chemical substances. It became a standing committee in 1944. Two years later, the organization adopted its first list of 148 exposure limits, then referred to as Maximum Allowable Concentrations. The term "Threshold Limit Values (TLV®)" was introduced in 1956. The first list of Threshold Limit Values and Biological Exposure Indices (the TLVs® and BEIs® book) was published in 1962. A new edition is now published annually. Today's list of TLVs® and BEIs® includes over 600 chemical substances and physical agents, as well as over 30 Biological Exposure Indices for selected chemicals.
The TLVs® and BEIs® are developed as guidelines to assist in the control of health hazards. These recommendations or guidelines are intended for use in the practice of industrial hygiene, to be interpreted and applied only by a person trained in this discipline.
In certain circumstances, individuals or organizations may wish to make use of these recommendations or guidelines if the use of TLVs® and BEIs® contributes to the overall improvement in worker protection.