Press Release

Legal Actions Challenge ACGIH® and Threaten the Occupational Hygiene Profession

 

LEGAL ACTIONS CHALLENGE ACGIH® AND THREATEN THE OCCUPATIONAL HYGIENE PROFESSION

Cincinnati, Ohio - January 19, 2001 - The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®), headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been served with three unrelated lawsuits. Each complaint involves the Chemical Substance Threshold Limit Values (TLVs® ) Sodium Sesquicarbonate (Trona), Synthetic Vitreous Fibers (specifically Refractory Ceramic Fibers (RCF), and Vinyl Chloride.

The nature of two of these complaints calls into question the freedom of any party to undertake independent scientific research, and publish results. This threatens the credibility of the occupational hygiene profession and the ability of occupational hygienists to continue their work. Working with legal counsel, the ACGIH® Board of Directors, along with other dedicated volunteers, some who are members of the Chemical Substances-Threshold Limit Values (CS-TLV®) Committee, and ACGIH® Staff have concluded that a vigorous defense of ACGIH® and its members is essential if they are to continue to progress in the cause of worker health and safety. Board Chair, Scott E. Merkle, CIH, states, "The nature of the allegations brought in these actions brings a real threat to the ability of professional practitioners to fully protect workers based upon sound and thorough science. These allegations are unfounded and are without basis. Nonetheless, any adverse judgment in these cases could very well dampen, if not silence, the dissemination of the results of credible research by all scientists in all fields of endeavor. At stake is the right of any organization or group to express scientific opinions based on their reasoned evaluation and judgment. These cases threaten our right to free speech as granted in the First Amendment to our Constitution." Merkle continued, "After careful consideration and with the advice of experienced legal counsel, we have concluded that a vigorous and thorough defense of ACGIH® and the IH profession is necessary. There is no alternative. We stand by ACGIH® and the significant contributions it has made for over half a century. We stand by our TLV® Committee. We stand by our policies, procedures, and processes. We stand by our recommended Threshold Limit Values, and the fairness and thoroughness of the system used in their development and dissemination." According to ACGIH® General Counsel, Steven John Fellman of Galland, Kharasch, Greenberg, Fellman & Swirsky, P.C. in Washington, D.C., "ACGIH® has acted within all legal requirements in developing and publishing TLVs®. It has every right and responsibility to defend its position. Beyond my commitment to continue a thorough and reasoned defense of ACGIH®, its members, and the industrial hygiene profession, my concerns extend to similar not-for-profit, voluntary, membership organizations in other fields of endeavor which disseminate recommendations and practice guidelines intended to protect people from injury and death."

Mr. Fellman and his associates are working primarily on the RCF case. Additional legal counsel has been retained in Macon, Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia and in Texas.

For more information on these legal proceedings, please visit our website at www.acgih.org.

ACGIH® Worldwide is a member-based organization that advances worker health and safety through education and dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge. ACGIH® is one of the industry's leading publications resources, with over 400 titles relative to occupational and environmental health and safety, including the renowned TLV® and BEI® book. For more information visit the ACGIH® website at www.acgih.org. or call our Member Services Representatives at 513-742-2020.

Media Contact:
A. Anthony Rizzuto
Executive Director
513-742-6163

trizzuto@acgih.org