The American Industrial Hygiene Association's recently released 2000-2001 Annual Report gives some interesting insight. In 2000, AIHA gained approximately 902 new members and enjoyed a renewal rate of 90 percent for the current year - a slight percent increase over 1999.

But for the third straight year AIHA experienced a slight membership decline. There were 12,359 members at year-end 2000, down from 12,588 at the end of 1999. (In 1998, membership stood at 12,914; in 1997, at 13,231; and in 1996, at 13,021.)

Outgoing AIHA Executive Director O. Gordon Banks made these observations:

  • Most professional associations are not thriving currently. Why? Ongoing layoffs and cutbacks in industry, reduced training and travel budgets, and consolidation of plants and facilities. AIHA's conference, exposition and seminar attendance are all subject to these same pressures. "AIHA is at the mercy of the U.S. economy more than we have previously understood," said Banks.

  • It's not an easy time for the larger environmental health and safety profession, either. "Friction over the dividing line of industrial hygiene as it compares to that of several related professions continues to cause trouble for them and us. Although it appears incredibly easy to resolve such matters, I assure you there is great complexity, and organizations often are incapable of thinking and acting like homogenous groups of judicious individuals," said Banks.

  • Industrial hygiene "is a grand profession. Whether it remains its traditional self or morphs into something unknown at this point, it will remain a grand profession," he said.