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Stranger Things Meets Industrial Hygiene

By Mark Ames 

If you’re like me, you recently finished watching season three of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things. Without giving anything away, this latest season was a feast for the IH/OH eye, featuring countless instances of the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, prevention, and control of hazards. 

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the series or could use a refresher, Stranger Things takes place in a fictitious small town in Indiana, which is suddenly plagued by a supernatural threat arising from secret government experiments. Covering a wide array of scenes and circumstances, the entire series easily lends itself to discussions that explore many IH/OH topics, including: 

  • confined spaces 
  • disaster planning, response, and recovery 
  • encouraging students to pursue careers in IH/OH 
  • environmental health and safety 
  • infectious diseases 
  • PPE—how it’s selected and used 
  • slips, trips, and falls 
  • teen workplace health and safety 
  • Total Worker Exposure 
  • Total Worker Health 
  • transportation safety 
  • workplace violence 
  • and so much more… 

In addition to its entertainment value, Stranger Things reveals an amazing truth: we all practice the fundamentals of IH/OH throughout our lives. We are all, at the very least, industrial hygienists in training—we just might not realize it yet. With these things in mind, no doubt enterprising teachers are already dreaming up ways to incorporate Stranger Things into their classes.  

Let’s do that too. Let’s use this series and others like it as opportunities to talk about the roles that IH/OH plays in our lives. By helping students, teachers, policymakers, and the general public understand IH/OH in creative, fun ways, each of us can increase support for industrial hygiene. With commitment, persistence, and a bit of luck, increased awareness and support for IH/OH will result in policymakers providing additional resources for OEHS activities and encourage students to enter this noble profession. 

Need a bit of help starting an initial conversation with someone who might not be familiar with IH/OH? AIHA has got you covered. Check out our “Conversation Commitment Challenge” (PDF), which features conversation starters, talking points, and other useful resources. As you’re having these conversations, we’d love to hear from you. Please share what’s working for you and what lessons you’re learning, and let us know about any additional resources you’d like to see from AIHA by posting in the Open Forum on Catalyst or emailing me.  

Mark Ames is AIHA’s director of Government Relations. 


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