Pittsburgh AIHA Historical Committee
The 2021-2022 Executive Committee is pleased to announce the formation of a new committee: the Pittsburgh Local Section Historical Committee.
The purpose of the Historical Committee is to document, preserve and curate information about our rich history and impact on the local community as a local section since our formation as one of the inaugural local sections of AIHA in October of 1939.
Josh Maskrey will chair the committee for 2021-2022.
If you are interested in getting involved the committee, or if you have historical documents, meeting records, photographs, or other information that pertain to our section’s history, please e-mail PittsburghAIHAhistory@gmail.com.
Our initial points of focus will be gathering information on the formative years of our local section (1939-1945) and developing a timeline of significant IH contributions through the present day. However, we welcome any and all historical information!
The Formation of the Pittsburgh AIHA
(Submitted by Josh Maskrey, CIH, Pgh. AIHA Historical Committee)
National AIHA’s Development of Local Sections
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) was officially formed at the June 1939 meeting of the American Association of Industrial Physicians and Surgeons. Our Pittsburgh local section was quick to follow; the original interim bylaws of national AIHA gave their board of directors the power to foster the formation of local groups and admit new members. The fledgling national AIHA appointed a committee, chaired by Gordon G. Harrold, to conquer the task of developing local sections in key industrial centers in the USA. Pittsburgh was one of those key industrial centers, our city was an industrial giant in the steel, coal mining, glass, railroad, and coke industries. Pittsburgh’s scientists had a history of contributing important, practical research to the growing industrial health and occupational toxicology communities. We had a core group of industrial hygienists interested in forming a section. F.R. Holden, H.H. Schrenk, and E.C. Barnes represented the Western PA portion of the local section committee formed by national AIHA.
Those three scientists wasted no time in recruiting interested parties to the new Pittsburgh Section AIHA. On October 18, 1939, a national AIHA meeting was held at the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Nine members of the inaugural board of directors were in attendance, including the first Pittsburgh local section president H.H. Schrenk. At that meeting, those present voted that one-sixth of each national member’s annual dues (which were $3.00 at the time) should be rebated to the corresponding local section to provide for expenses (AIHA 1940a; Clayton and Clayton 1994). The Pittsburgh local section continued to develop after this October meeting and was officially organized in January of 1940 at a local section meeting.
The inaugural Pittsburgh section officers were as follows:
First Professional Activity of our Section
On December 13, 1939, key members of the developing Pittsburgh local section of AIHA prepared a technical meeting for the Western PA American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) on the topic of respiratory protection. This meeting may have been our first documented professional activity as a local section. There were three presentations:
AIHA. (1940a). Local Sections. American Industrial Hygiene Association Quarterly: 1(1), p. 20-21. Chicago, Illinois.
AIHA. (1940b). Constitution an By-Laws of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. American Industrial Hygiene Association Quarterly: 1(1), p. 21-23. Chicago, Illinois.
Clayton, G. D., & Clayton, F. E. (1994). The American Industrial Hygiene Association: Its history and personalities 1939–1990. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association.
AIHce History - In 1961, AIHA® and ACGIH® jointly sponsored the first wholly separate conference and exposition for industrial hygienists (now known as AIHce). Up to that point, AIHA had been invited, since its founding in 1939, as a participant organization in a joint conference lead by the American Association of Industrial Physicians and Surgeons (AAIPS). The program pictured here was from the 1941 event held in Pittsburgh at the William Penn Hotel.
Mellon Institute was the incubator for IH in Pittsburgh. Scientists from Union Carbide, Dow, Pitt, Carnegie Tech and others started this institution, Later on came the Industrial Health Foundation as a commercial tox lab and IH testing lab. Before Pitts Graduate School of Public Health came researchers from Gulf Oil, Westinghouse, Koppers, US Steel, etc. Some of the Pittsburgh names who made IH famous included Henry Smyth, John Braun, Howard Bumstead, YYves Alarie, Nurtan Esmen, Joe Zatek, check out this link https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/mellon-institute.html#mellon_institute_history