ALARA Update

iom120ALARA Update is essentially a blog where we will talk about issues of importance to the wider occupational hygiene community. This section of the site is intended as a spot where we can update visitors with news of our various educational resource offerings, notifications of upcoming meetings and conferences, and anything else that may be of interest to the occupational hygiene community.

Come back periodically to check the posts below for our latest updates.

Website moved to new host

Today the website was moved to a new host, which should improve speed and make it easier for us to implement the changes we would like to make as we move toward our not-for-profit model for the organization. If you notice any unusual things such as links that don’t work, we would appreciate your contacting us at


ALARA has discontinued all course activity

ALARA has discontinued offering our intensive courses. We have “retired” from full-time occupational hygiene consulting and in addition to terminating our in-plant hygiene sampling activities, we are discontinuing our professional development classroom courses. We may begin to offer training in these areas based on an online model, but are still investigating the best way to provide this training.

We first considered repackaging our courses for presentation in an online format, but are aware that most people prefer the classroom format which we find is no longer practical for us. Our long-term objective is to move toward a not-for-profit model where we can provide some of this educational and informational material through this website.

ALARA has discontinued occupational hygiene field surveys

ALARA has decided to stop offering fields surveys for assessment of occupational exposure to chemical and physical hazards. We are also rethinking our approach to our occupational hygiene teaching activities. We are presently not offering any of our intensive courses as we have been involved in other endeavours. We may continue to offer some of these courses in a modified format in future, possibly in an online format. We have considered the possibility of presenting courses spread over several weeks, a few hours per week. This would allow course participants to take the courses from work or home without the added expense of travel. We still have to solve a number of problems particularly with regard to the practical sessions that have been a central part of the courses.

We have not yet finalized our plans in this area, but would probably start with a single course as a pilot project to see if an online approach is practical. We will provide more details in this space when they are available.

14th Report on Carcinogens released

ROC14thEdOn November 6th, 2016, the National Toxicology Program of NIH released its 14th Report on Carcinogens.

The Report on Carcinogens (RoC) is a US science-based, public health report that identifies agents in the environment that pose a carcinogenic risk.

Substances are listed in the RoC following a multi-step process with several opportunities for scientific and public inputs and using established listing criteria. For each listed substance, the RoC contains a profile that contains the listing recommendation and a summary of the scientific evidence used in reaching that recommendation. The profile also contains information on potential sources of exposure and current US federal regulations to limit exposures.

The technical content of the RoC makes it a valuable toxicological reference for occupational hygiene professionals. We think that many of the visitors to our website would want to have a copy in our electronic reference library.

The RoC can be downloaded free of charge as a 24.3 Mb zip file from this link: Once the file is extracted to a folder on your computer or tablet, its contents can be viewed in you web browser by simply clicking on the start.html file.


New NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (5th Ed)

NIOSH has just released an updated version of the NIOSH Manual of NMAMAnalytical Methods. NMAM is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, surfaces, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed. These methods have been developed or adapted by NIOSH or its partners and have been evaluated according to established experimental protocols and performance criteria. NMAM also includes chapters on quality assurance, sampling, portable instrumentation, etc. At ALARA we make extensive use of the NMAM when planning field work and also find the “chapters” to contain invaluable background information.

If you are interested in occupational hygiene air sampling, you may want to browse the new edition. It can be found at:

Potential problem for users of datalogging equipment

Today I read a TechRepublic article that reveals a potential problem for occupational hygienists using older direct reading instruments that connect with their computers using the RS-232 (serial) interface. This interface was used on older occupational hygiene equipment and used a  cable to connect to a 9-pin or 25-pin serial port on the computer. It could use a “USB-to-serial” adapter for connecting to computers with USB ports. The concern is not with the instrument, but rather with Continue reading Potential problem for users of datalogging equipment

Air Monitoring with Direct Reading Instruments

Direct reading instruments for monitoring air contaminants are becoming more common and their use in occupational hygiene is becoming more widespread. While safety instruments such as those for detection of flammable atmospheres have been used for many years, more sophisticated and more versatile instruments are now widely used for detecting both specific toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and classes of compounds such as aromatic solvents. Other instruments can detect and quantify aerosol contaminants such as dusts and fumes. These instruments employ a variety of different detection principles to identify and quantify specific contaminants. In order to determine which instrument will meet a specific need requires that we understand the basis of operation of these instruments.  Generally these devices must be both highly sensitive and highly selective to measure a specific contaminant in an atmosphere that usually will contain other contaminants as well.

ALARA is in the process of developing a new practical course focused on the use of such “real-time” instruments in occupational hygiene.  We are interested in comments from our site visitors about their use of and interest in direct reading instruments to determine if there is sufficient interest to merit development of this course. If you would be interested in taking such a course or if you have views on the potential value of such a course, we would like to hear from you. You can use the contact us form here to give us your comments.