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Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS)

The Division of Respiratory Disease Studies provides national and international leadership toward the identification, evaluation, and prevention of occupational respiratory disease, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pneumoconiosis. Major programs include:


DRDS collects, analyzes, and disseminates health and hazard information related to occupational respiratory disease, including the incidence, prevalence, and temporal trends of specific diseases by agent, occupation, industry, geography, and demographic characteristics. The program also provides technical assistance and recommendations for medical screening and health surveillance through surveys of hazardous exposures and personal protective equipment use. The program synthesizes data and frames recommendations for priority setting, hypothesis generation, and data collection. Coal Workers Health Surveillance Program DRDS coordinates and processes the medical examinations prescribed by the 1977 Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (FMSHAct), which includes: operating a certification program for participating medical facilities and physicians; evaluating and approving employer programs for mandated employee examinations under the Coal Workers X-ray Surveillance Program; and operating the National Coal Workers Autopsy Program.

Field Studies

DRDS designs and conducts short- and long-term field investigations, morbidity and mortality studies, and occupational hygiene studies to evaluate and assess the relationship between exposures to toxic substances and acute and chronic lung diseases. DRDS also responds to requests from employers or employees for health hazard evaluations related to respiratory diseases and recommends methods to eliminate or reduce identified hazards. Findings from studies are published in scientific journals, technical articles, or other appropriate media so that the results and recommendations can be used for national disease prevention activities.

Laboratory Research

The Laboratory Research Branch's (LRB) mission is to improve the means to measure, monitor, and control workplace hazards known or suspected to cause respiratory disease, and improve the means to detect adverse human responses to toxic occupational agents. Agents of interest and other opportunities for LRB research may be identified through field investigations, surveillance, or familiarity with the state of relevant science. Branch scientists conduct hypothesis-driven laboratory investigations as well as design and participate in relevant field studies. As appropriate, there is close collaboration with other Institute investigators and ongoing communication and coordination with other national and international scientists. The end result is to develop and disseminate useful information to prevent occupational respiratory disease.

Tuberculosis Coordination

DRDS coordinates the NIOSH Tuberculosis research program, which is designed to improve recognition, evaluation, prevention and control of tuberculosis transmission where workplace or occupation confers added risk of infection. This Institute program is part of the larger CDC program for tuberculosis elimination.

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  • Page last reviewed: May 20, 2011
  • Page last updated: June 26, 2009 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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