I didn’t realize when I went to meet with Teni Adewumi-Gunn the other day that I was about to meet a rock star. Well, a rock star of sorts in our line of work and among newer industrial hygienists! I knew that I was going to meet with a SAIF Corporation summer industrial hygiene intern to trade notes about green chemistry resources and needs in Oregon. I was in for a big treat to be able to learn about Teni’s doctoral research, related to my own interests, as well as to meet someone I am certain will be a fine addition to our profession. Most of us graying industrial hygienists share a similar concern: the aging of our profession and challenges recruiting new folks into the field – even though the job outlook is highly promising. And I’m afraid some of us might come off as a little overly enthusiastic when we find someone new in our field of work.
Teni is currently a doctoral student in the Environmental Health Sciences department at UCLA, with a Master’s in Environmental Health Sciences (industrial hygiene track) already under her belt. Her research interests include applying industrial hygiene to underserved worker communities, sustainability, and environmental policy. UCLA’s website informs me that Teni is a Women’s Policy Institute Fellow; Student Section National Chair of the American Industrial Hygiene Association; and serves on the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology Health and Safety Committee. She was previously the Environmental Justice Research and Policy Analyst for Black Women for Wellness, where she used knowledge about her industrial hygiene skill set to engage community members to influence local, state, and national level policies that regulate the safety of chemical use in cosmetics and personal care products.
Given our mutual interests it was only natural for us to briefly talk about the challenges facing stylists – particularly when chemicals are hidden in products and warnings are not effectively conveyed through messaging, as our Institute found back in 2010 as we collaborated with Oregon OSHA to document high levels of formaldehyde in salon products.
SAIF Corporation is lucky to have Teni this summer as she helps craft information for businesses on green chemistry, including offering practical advice on how to move away from more toxic chemicals and products. I am eager to see what she develops. Perhaps I look even more forward to learning more about the work Teni takes on as she moves into and through her career. As always, I feel lucky to have the partners that we have, such as SAIF, who are working to move the needle forward in protecting workers.