Exposure Science-Industrial Hygiene

Students in hazmat suits

Exposure Science (ExS) underpins several of the disciplines comprising the Environmental Health Sciences. When applied to occupational health, ExS falls within the domain of Industrial Hygiene (IH). By tradition, the field of IH applies knowledge and principles drawn from the physical and life sciences, engineering, statistics, psychology, and program management to the protection of workers (and the general public) from chemical, biological, and physical agents of disease. Considering IH in the broader context of ExS, the contributions IH professionals are making in modern global society (within and beyond the boundaries of the workplace), and our evolving understanding of health risks as a function of time/life-stage, we have adopted the hybrid term Exposure Science-Industrial Hygiene (ExS-IH) to describe our academic program.

IH professionals are concerned with the myriad aspects of evaluating, mitigating, and managing workplace hazards, including toxic gases and vapors, dusts, (bio-)aerosols, mold, engineered nanomaterials, pathogens, noise, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, ergonomic stresses and safety hazards.

As we move toward a more holistic view of human health and well-being (i.e., Total Worker Health), the roles of IH professionals are expanding to include health promotion, wellness, and emotional and mental health issues associated with increased workloads and associated job stress.

Increasingly, responsibility for environmental issues outside of the workplace, such as hazardous waste, residential indoor air quality, ambient air and water pollution, and ecological balance are also falling within the domain of the practicing Industrial Hygienist.

Among the activities in which IH professionals may be engaged are the following:

  • Measurement of contaminant levels in the air, on surfaces, and in biological fluids
  • Design of exposure assessment strategies (e.g., for estimating health risks)
  • Statistical analysis of data sets to inform decision-making
  • Management of occupational and environmental health programs
  • Training of workers about hazards and safe practices
  • Promotion of healthy working conditions
  • Demonstration of compliance with regulations and guidelines limiting harmful exposures
  • Research on the relationships between exposure and health effects
  • Development and implementation of new monitoring technologies and methodologies
  • Provision of service to the public and/or professional societies (e.g., AIHA)
  • Maintenance of ethical practices in all aspects of their professional activities
  • Engagement in lifelong learning

IH professionals are employed by numerous private and public sector organizations include large (often multi-national) corporations; insurance companies and environmental consulting firms

 Distinguishing features of the University of Michigan IH Program include the following:
  • One of the longest-standing and most highly regarded IH programs in the country
  • Dedicated core faculty that are highly effective teachers and mentors, with active research portfolios addressing issues at the cutting edge of the field
  • Diverse supporting faculty with a wide range of experience as practicing IH professionals
  • Rigorous curricula coupled with an array of other enriching experiences to provide comprehensive practitioner and research training
  • Continuous record of accreditation by ABET for over 20 years
  • An integral component of the Michigan Education and Research Center (ERC), which has been sponsored by NIOSH for over 38 years
  • An award-winning IH student organization that provides a tight-knit community of friends/peers
  • Over 800 alumni, many of whom hold influential, leadership positions in private industry, government, and academia in the U.S. and throughout the world
  • Global Occupational Health Initiative

The Industrial Hygiene track provides additional expertise to the Environmental Health Sciences Master of Public HEalth (MPH), Master of Sciences (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. Some relevant aspects include:
  • The MPH and MS require four semesters to complete
  • The MPH includes a summer internship (field experience), typically in private industry or with a governmental agency, either in the U.S. or abroad
  • The MS degree includes a focused thesis project guided by one or more faculty mentors.
  • The PhD degree entails in-depth training/mentorship in research skills, and the generation of high-impact, scholarly research findings that are published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature
  • The curricula are comprehensive, yet sufficiently flexibility to permit students to pursue any of a number of other interests, including "minor" concentrations and Certificate Degrees
  • Applicants should have a strong interest in science and health, an undergraduate degree in some field of basic or applied science, and, at a minimum, should have taken courses in biology and/or physiology, general and organic chemistry, physics, and calculus.

Applicants to the track in Industrial hygiene must have a strong background in the natural sciences. Minimum requirements for admission include one course on each of the following topics:

biology and/or physiology
general chemistry
organic chemistry
physics
calculus

Some deficiencies may be made up after admission to the program. Courses taken to fulfill basic deficiencies do not count toward fulfillment of the degree's course requirements. Please visit the Admissions & Aid section of the U-M SPH site for details on the application process and financial aid options. Additional information for international applicants can also be found here.

Qualified ExS-IH students can receive financial support from one or more of the following sources:

Traineeships from the NIOSH ERC
Grants/Scholarships from the Rackham Graduate School and the School of Public Health
Teaching assistantships from EHS or other SPH departments
Research assistantships from faculty research grants
Smaller scholarship awards from external organizations, such as the American Industrial Hygiene Foundations (AIHF), Chevron, and the 3M Corporation

Admitted ExS-IH students are automatically considered for traineeship support from the NIOSH ERC (U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents only) as well as scholarships from Rackham or SPH. Teaching and research assistantships are determined by arrangement with faculty. Applications for the smaller scholarships depend on the sources; please inquire with the Graduate Program Coordinator

The (ExS-)IH program has maintained a 6-yr average enrollment of 24 students per year and a graduating cohort size ranging from 7-11 students. Listed below are the enrollment and graduation figures. Our record of career placement is outstanding.

Year Enrollment* Graduates*
2014-2015 21 11
2015-2016 21 7
2016-2017 26 10
2017-2018 27 11
2018-2019 30 13
2019-2020 26 19


*Enrollment and graduate data includes all degrees (MPH, MS and PhD)

Studying Exposure Science-Industrial Hygiene at U-M:
A Student Perspective

  • To enroll, educate, and support top-quality students from diverse backgrounds and prepare them to be leaders in the science, practice, and further development of industrial hygiene
  • To maintain one of the leading graduate exposure-industrial hygiene programs in the world
  • To endow our students with the multidisciplinary technical foundations and attitudes necessary to continue to learn throughout their professional careers

Educational Objectives

Achievement of the goals of the ExS-IH program requires that a number of educational and administrative objectives be met.  We pledge to administer an outstanding educational experience that motivates students toward academic excellence and provides students with a comprehensive program of study that imparts the knowledge, skills, and preparation to:

  • Understand the essential scientific and practical elements of the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control, and management of health hazards in the workplace
  • Apply and communicate knowledge of hazards and risks, in light of applicable guidelines, regulations, and policies, to reduce unsafe exposures and promote healthy working conditions
  • Think critically in defining and solving problems
  • Work effectively in teams with other health professionals and with other stakeholders
  • Embrace the professional, ethical, and leadership responsibilities inherent to the practice of industrial hygiene

  • Apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and industrial hygiene
  • Design and conduct experiments and analyze and interpret data
  • Formulate or design a system, process, or program to meet desired needs
  • Function effectively as a member of multidisciplinary teams
  • Identify and solve problems in occupational health science
  • Understand professional and ethical responsibilities
  • Communicate effectively
  • Understand the global and societal impact of solutions to problems
  • Recognize the need for, and engage in, lifelong learning
  • Understand both historical and contemporary issues in occupational health science
  • Use the modern techniques, skills, and tools of professional practice

Specific Student Outcomes

  • Identify agents, factors, and stressors generated by and/or associated with defined sources, unit operations, and/or processes
  • Describe qualitative and quantitative aspects of generation of agents, factors, and stressors
  • Understand physiological and/or toxicological interactions of physical, chemical, biological, and ergonomic agents, factors, and/or stressors with the human body
  • Assess qualitative and quantitative aspects of hazard and exposure assessment, dose-response, and risk characterization based on applicable pathways and modes of entry
  • Calculate, interpret, and apply statistical and epidemiological data
  • Recommend and evaluate engineering, administrative, and personal protective controls and/or other interventions to reduce or eliminate hazards
  • Demonstrate an understanding of applicable business and managerial practices
  • Interpret and apply occupational and environmental regulations
  • Understand fundamental aspects of safety and environmental health
  • Pursue recognized professional certification

Curriculum and Sample Schedules

In addition to the general public and environmental health education provided by SPH and EHS Core Curriculum, students, the ExS-IH  track provides advanced knowledge and understanding for students seeking to pursue careers in professional practice.

Sample MPH Curriculum

Year 1 - Fall Term (September - December) Credit Hours
Credits 14.5
BIOSTAT 521 - Applied Biostatistics 3
EHS 510 - Responsible Conduct in Research and Scholarship (RCRS) 1
EHS 556 - Occupational Ergonomics 2
EHS 602 - Essentials of Toxicology 3
EHS 652 - Evaluation of Chemical Hazards 3
EHS 658 - Physical Hazards 2
EHS 687 - Professional Development in EHS 0.5
Year 1 - Winter Term (January - April) Credit Hours
Credits 15.5
Select one (1) of the following: 3
       BIOSTAT 502 - Application of Regression Analysis to Public Health Studies  
       BIOSTAT 522 - Biostatistical Analyses of Health Related Studies  
       EHS 655 - Human Exposure Analysis  
       EHS 674 - Environmental and Health Risk Modeling  
EHS 603 - Occupational and Environmental Diseases 3
EHS 651- Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Program Management 2
EHS 653 - Environmental Sampling and Analysis Laboratory 3
EHS 668 - Occupational Health Seminar 1
EHS 688 - Professional Development in EHS II 0.5
PUBHTLH 512 Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health 3
INTERNSHIP (May-August)
Year 2 - Fall Term (September - December) Credit Hours
Credits 15.5
EHS 604 - Professional Perspectives in Environmental Health 2
EHS 689 - Professional Development in EHS III 0.5
EHS 757 - OH Processes Industrial Processes 2
PUBHLTH 507 Social Determinants of Health and Health Communication 2
Electives 9
Year 2 - Winter Term (January - April) Credit Hours
Credits 15
EHS 651 - Biological Agents 2
IOE 539 Occupational Safety Engineering 3
PUBLLTH 511 Nutritional Aspects of Program Planning & Foundation 2
PUBHLTH 513 Public Health Systems, Policy and Management 3
PUBHLTH 516 Leadership Skills for Interprofessional Practice 1
Electives 4

Our Environmental Health Sciences ExS-IH MS degree is geared to students seeking research careers. It serves as a doctoral preparatory program, while also providing sufficient coursework in core ExS-IH topics to qualify graduates for professional practice should they choose not continue on to the Ph.D. program.

Sample MS Curriculum

Year 1 - Fall Term (September - December) Credit Hours
Credits 15
BIOSTAT 521 - Applied Biostatistics 3
EHS 510 - Responsible Conduct in Research and Scholarship (RCRS) 1
EHS 556 - Occupational Ergonomics 2
EHS 602 - Essentials of Toxicology 3
EHS 652 - Evaluation of Chemical Hazards 3
EHS 658 - Physical Hazards 2
EHS 697 - Readings 1
Year 1 - Winter Term (January - April) Credit Hours
Credits 15
Select one (1) of the following: 3
       BIOSTAT 502 - Application of Regression Analysis to Public Health Studies  
 
       EHS 655 - Human Exposure Analysis
 
       EHS 674 Environmental and Health Risk Modeling
 
EHS 651- Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Program Management 2
EHS 653 - Environmental Sampling and Analysis Laboratory 3
EHS 668 - Occupational Health Seminar 1
EHS 698 - Research 3
PUBHTLH 512 Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health 3
Research (May-August)
Year 2 - Fall Term (September - December) Credit Hours
Credits 11
EHS 698 - Research 6
EHS 757 - OH Processes Industrial Processes 2
IOE 539 - Occupational Safety Engineering 3
Year 2 - Winter Term (January - April) Credit Hours
Credits 16
EHS 576 - Biological Agents 2
EHS 654 - Control of Exposures to Airborne Contaminants 3
EHS 657 - Advanced Exposure Assessment 3
EHS 698 - Research 4
EHS 699 - Masters Thesis 1
IOE 539 - Occupational Safety Engineering 3

Our Ph.D. program is administered at the departmental level. It follows conventional norms in terms of essential coursework, proficiency examinations, proposal writing/presentation, research and professional development, and defense of the written dissertation. The program of study is tailored to each student's interests and aptitudes and is determined through consultation with the student's academic advisor.  Details are provided in the EHS Doctoral Guidelines.

More Information

To learn about the current research being conducted by ExS-IH faculty, please visit the individual faculty profiles on this website. To learn more about the field of IH or to receive more information about our ExS-IH programs, please contact:

Professor Ted Zellers
Exposure Science-Industrial Hygiene Program Director
734-936-0766
ezellers@umich.edu