Melvin Bolden, left, a new industrial hygienist at Fort Belvoir; and Bridget Pilgrim, installation safety officer, review some safety-related documents, ahead of a recent town hall.
By Margaret Steele, Fort Belvoir Public Affairs
One, simplified definition of industrial hygiene is, “science and art devoted to anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling environmental factors that may cause sickness or impaired well-being.”
And, Fort Belvoir’s newest industrial hygienist, born in D.C., comes here with a vast career and knowledge; and an enthusiasm for his science.
Melvin Bolden, on Belvoir, now, for about a month, reiterated the field’s definition, by saying, “I’m here to mitigate and control any hazards that exist to civilians and families.”
Bolden said he’s always loved nature, having grown up near Southern Maryland wetlands, near Bryantown.
“I played in the swamp, as a kid; fished and caught bullfrog eggs,” he said.
“I hated chemistry in high school. I was an engineering physics major in college and stumbled on to chemistry, because I found physics so boring, but had completed all of my math requirements,” Bolden said.
“So, I took my math credits to the chemistry department and enrolled in organic chemistry,” he said. “Despite my high school experience, I fell in love with chemistry. I just always thought it was so beautifully romantic the way molecules interacted with each other.”
Once I was exposed to the lab, and its hands-on, tangible environment, that was all she wrote,” he said.
After graduating from Morgan State University, his career started as a researcher, there.
Bolden also worked in the pathology core lab at Johns Hopkins. He was in a post-bachelor program, through the Army, as a physical scientist and was then permanently hired by the Army, as an extractionist and analyst of air, water and soil samples, for seven years, in a position he refers to as a dream.
He also worked as an industrial hygienist at the hospital at Fort Meade, Md.; before working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, focusing on dynamic ergonomics. In that position, he studied things like climbing apparatus for tree climbers.
He then returned to working for the Army, at Public Health Command, as an industrial hygienist.
Hired as a database subject matter expert, Bolden said the position allowed him to see how great the Army is. “I observed and performed hazard analyses for dozens of jobs, including welding shops; paint and blast booths; veterinary clinics; maintenance shops; small-arms facilities; chemical dip tanks; helicopter hangers; operating rooms … the whole gambit,” he said, adding, “I love this stuff.”
Bolden also has Occupational Health and Safety Technology and Home Inspection certificates from Baltimore City Community College and has Mold Inspector Risk Assessor, Lead Inspector and Risk Assessor certificates from Aerosol Monitoring & Analysis.
“I look forward to providing the garrison command with credible, honest and transparent scientific guidance,” Bolden said. “I plan to create a safer environment for Belvoir's Soldiers and their families; and civilians.” He added he’s grateful to be here and to be able to help people while he does something he greatly enjoys.
“I’m here to bridge any gaps and give the Army another set of teeth, using accuracy, based on data, science and numbers,” he said.
Bridget Pilgrim, Belvoir Garrison safety manager, said Bolden hit the ground running. “His experience as an industrial hygienist is definitely an asset to the garrison and to the installation,” Pilgrim said. “His focus and goals align with Safety’s, and ensure a safe environment for the whole community.”