In 1974, I received my degree in Biology and went to work in Cincinnati in a USEPA biological research laboratory. I was in a group that ran auto engines with and without catalytic converters and exposed mice and rats to the exhaust in controlled exposure chambers. I do remember being handed a respirator and told to wear it when removing the animals to our labs where teratology and pulmonary effects were studied. After a year working with the little critters, I started thinking there must be something more to do with a biology degree. Fortunately for me, my best friend from high school was the son of Dr. Bill Lainhart, who was Deputy Assistant Director of the newly formed NIOSH. One night while at his house, he heard my frustration and basically said, “boy do I have a career for you…Industrial Hygiene.” And so I applied to the Kettering Laboratory Institute of Environmental Health, a newly funded NIOSH ERC with an IH program, and the journey began.
I spent over 40 years in the oil and chemical industry doing a wide range of hands-on field surveys, development and provision of training programs, watching OSHA regulations develop rapidly, managing product stewardship programs, and learning the nuances of developing and auditing compliance programs for national and international chemical operations. I was fortunate to be involved in Chemical Industry trade association work where I was introduced to Product Stewardship programs through the Responsible Care® program and participation in the development of an industry performance guideline for those programs.
Thanks to my company supporting the activity locally and nationally, I was also able to participate in multiple volunteer activities with AIHA, IOHA, and the Product Stewardship Society, including serving on the Boards and in officer positions for those organizations. This allowed seeing the value of giving back to the profession both in professional and personal ways. I retired in 2018 and chose to try and continue volunteer work with what was then ABIH. A lot has happened since I came on the Board as indicated by the new umbrella organization, The Board for Global EHS Credentialing, which is managing multiple credentials.
I’ve been in Houston my whole career except for a short assignment in Rome. I’m married with two kids and two grandchildren. And, I might add, my daughter obtained her MPH with an emphasis in Industrial Hygiene. We have some great conversations on her work, and it definitely helps me understand where the profession is going through her experiences and what’s needed to support professional credentials in EHS going forward.
Thomas Grumbles, CIH, CPPS, FAIHA
Vice-Chair, BGC (Board for Global EHS Credentialing)
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