The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) squabbled last week over a Florida mold bill that would require licensing of all safety, health, environmental and engineering pros who work on mold cases in Florida - except certified industrial hygienists.

ASSE wrote letters to key Florida House members complaining that the measure as written provides a loophole for certified industrial hygienists to avoid consumer protection provisions that mold licensing would provide.

"It's disturbing that a licensing bill meant to protect Floridians from fraud and unqualified people would exempt one kind of practitioner," ASSE President Mark Hansen, P.E., C.S.P., said. "Why would one group even want to exempt themselves from rules to protect consumers? You don't see one kind of lawyer or one medical specialty trying to get out of Florida's licensing laws. Most professionals understand the benefits to the people they serve.

"Any action should be taken only after the widest possible variety of medical, environmental, safety and engineering experts have been consulted," Hansen added.

AIHA Government Affairs Manager Aaron Trippler tried to clarify AIHA's position in an Internet post:

  • "AIHA did not, and has not, requested any legislation nationwide on the issue of mold. We have responded to more than 40 bills that have been introduced in more than 20 states."

  • "AIHA did not request that the CIH be exempt from the bill in Florida or in the other bills where it has appeared. This was a decision of the drafter and sponsor of the legislation."

  • "However, whenever the CIH has been listed in legislation, AIHA has been supportive of this. In other words, while we do not believe licensing is the right way to go at this time, if licensing is the choice, we believe that CIHs should be one of those considered pre-qualified. We have never stated they should be the only ones pre-qualified. Why wouldn't we support this, this is what our members do."

  • "I am more surprised that ASSE did not attempt to have the CSP added to exemption rather than exclude other professionals. AIHA has been requested to provide input on dozens of these measures and has yet to hear of anyone that has a problem with our position."

    The latest sparring between the two groups set off a flame war on Internet list-servs for a few days. Here are some of the posts:

    "This bill by AIHA is bad news. I made a call and it appears this bill nails just about anybody who is not a CIH. AIHA is even scamming its own members who are not CIHs. . . This is just horrible!!!"

    "Is the bill "by AIHA?" Does it "nail" anyone? Is AIHA "scamming" anyone? Is it "horrible?" Has AIHA initiated "virtually all" the title protection legislation in the country?"

    "Brings to mind the predatory tactics of ASSE vs. AIHA of a few years past. It occurs to me that mold is closer to industrial hygiene's core knowledge than safety's. We didn't have to spend time studying ditching, and aspects of the construction trades. At least mold is closer to 'chemical' toxins than to most safety issues."

    "There are many safety 'professionals' who because of lack of formal education, available study time, perceived need, etc., will never pursue a CSP, CIH or similar designation. Yet these same people do the job of safety very well, even without the certificates hanging on the wall. Sometimes it seems as if the eagerness of the ASSE and the AIHA to introduce such legislation may end up pushing these good people out of the safety profession, or at least limiting the opportunities available to them."