American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists

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The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) community of professionals advance worker safety and health through education and the development and dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge.


The independent National Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (NCGIH) convened on June 27, 1938, in Washington, D.C.. NCGIH originally limited its full membership to two representatives from each governmental industrial hygiene agency. In 1946, the organization changed its name to the ACGIH and offered full membership to all industrial hygiene personnel within the agencies as well as to governmental industrial hygiene professionals in other countries.

Today, 12 ACGIH committees focus their energies on a range of topics: agricultural safety and health, air sampling instruments, bioaerosols, biological exposure indices, computer, construction, industrial ventilation, infectious agents, international, small business, chemical substance TLVs, and physical agent TLVs.

TLVs and BEIs

The ACGIH establishes the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for chemical substances and physical agents and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs).

Undoubtedly the best known of ACGIH's activities, the Threshold Limit Values (TLV) for Chemical Substances Committee was established in 1941. This group was charged with investigating, recommending, and annually reviewing exposure limits for chemical substances. It became a standing committee in 1944. Two years later, the organization adopted its first list of 148 exposure limits, then referred to as Maximum Allowable Concentrations. The term "Threshold Limit Values (TLV)" was introduced in 1956. The first Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values was published in 1962 and is now in its seventh edition. Today's list of TLVs includes 642 chemical substances and physical agents, as well as 38 Biological Exposure Indices for selected chemicals.

The TLVs and BEI are developed as guidelines to assist in the control of health hazards. These recommendations or guidelines are intended for use in the practice of industrial hygiene, to be interpreted and applied only by a person trained in this discipline.

In certain circumstances individuals or organizations may wish to make use of these recommendations or guidelines as a supplement to their occupational safety and health program. ACGIH does not oppose their use in this manner, if the use of TLVs and BEIs in these instances will contribute to the overall improvement in worker protection.

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