Check out more of our conversation with Dr. Paul Nony, CTEH senior toxicologist:

You recently sat for the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) exam. Tell us more.

The Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) exam is one of the most rigorous certification examinations of any industry. It covers every aspect of worker health and safety, as well as the rubrics of industrial hygiene. While my Ph.D. in Toxicology fulfilled many of the requirements, I also had to take additional industrial hygiene courses and show my collective industry experience before sitting for the exam. After months of after-hours studying, and even some vacation days, I took and passed the exam in November. My CIH is the fifth advanced industry certification earned by CTEH’s toxicologists this year, and the sixth overall for CTEH as a whole. Thanks to our team’s efforts, we continue to grow CTEH’s industry-best credentials in education, experience and certifications. 

Along with other members of the CTEH team, you’ve researched different strategies for assessing potential exposures to response workers, the public and environment during oil spills. What did your findings show?

During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, CTEH conducted air monitoring to ensure the day-to-day safety of cleanup workers. Initially, we were concerned workers could be exposed to potentially harmful oil vapors. After collecting thousands of air monitoring data points, we discovered the risks of heat stress and skin exposure during cleanup posed a much greater risk than inhalation of vapors. This was due to a process called oil weathering. The days to weeks of floating on the water’s surface with the wind blowing, sun shining and waves breaking up the oil meant there were little to no vapors left for workers to be exposed. The weathering process also meant communities on shore were exposed to very low, harmless concentrations, if any, of oil vapors throughout the response, which was very good news for the health of Gulf Coast communities.

You’ve been asked to speak at countless industry conferences across North America. How do these conferences benefit your work here at CTEH?

The recognition CTEH receives from speaking at conferences is a very fulfilling piece of our work. It allows us to show the breadth of our expertise within the environmental science and emergency response industries and allows us to learn how we can help others in the field. In addition to my memberships with the American Industrial Hygiene AssociationSociety of Toxicology (SOT), and SOT’s Occupational and Public Health Specialty Section, I believe conferences are an important way I—and CTEH as a whole—can stay connected to others in the industry.

What are your interests outside of work?

When not busy at work, I love spending time with my wife, Charlene, and our three kids, Audrey, Zeke and Olivia. I enjoy any outdoor activity—camping, hiking, fishing, you name it. Born and raised in Arkansas, I’m an avid follower of all Razorback sports. Go Hogs!

Interested in learning more? Share your questions for Dr. Nony on CTEH’s Facebook or Twitter.