Happy New Year and welcome to my first quarter column for 2005. Every new year brings with it new hopes and expectations. For many in the world today it has brought tragedy from disaster and war. In our country the president begins his second term with new advisors and new agenda. For me, I hope to continue to keep you updated on the latest happenings in the protective clothing research and development.

This month, ASTM Committee F23 meets in Atlanta, Georgia with a full agenda of items on new test methods, specifications, guides and programs. A new item that ASTM is launching this year is an Inter-laboratory Testing System (ILS) that will help facilitate conducting inter-laboratory round robin tests to validate accuracy and precision statements in their consensus test methods. I participated in an internet conference call last month in which subcommittee chairmen of F23 had a chance to review the proposed system that is intended to help expedite the evaluation and validity of new test methods. Before inter-laboratory round robins were initiated by task forces within subcommittees and it was the responsibility of the task force leader to coordinate the handling of equipment for doing the test, to supply materials, to identify participants, to collect the test data, review it and report back to the committee. Now with support from ASTM headquarters, all this will be handled through a computerized program (ILS) and dedicated staff that committee members will have access to.

Also, new this year, is a plan that Rich and I have discussed about offering additional services for consulting, training, testing and evaluation of methods for personal protection. As a recognized board certified industrial hygienist and chemist I would like to offer my expertise to train, to participate in test method development, to evaluate personal protective equipment and to respond to problems associated with the safety, health and environment issues related to radiological, chemical or biological agents. One issue that immediately comes to mind is nano-technology, where there is a need for improved methods of detection, protection and control. So, both Rich and I look forward to hearing from you as we begin the new year with high hopes and expectations too.