Volume 2 Number 10 February 2005
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Steps to a HealthierUS Workforce
New Steps Display at Key Partner Meetings
University Center Sign Research, Business Education Agreement
Scientific Investigation Highlights Carbon Dioxide Risk
Study Links Interns’ Long
Work Shifts and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes
Metzler to Retire As NPPTL Director
of NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies Named
Researcher Receives Fellowship Award
Rare Infection Spotlights Potential Pet Shop Work Risk
Evidence of GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein) as a Useful
Marker is Offered in New Study by NIOSH and Research Partners
Train the Trainer Workshops Scheduled
Look for Us
|International Beryllium Research Symposium-Be2005|
For more than two decades, NIOSH has been at the forefront of research to promote healthy indoor working environments. This is one of our great success stories in working with diverse partners to address complex occupational health concerns, and then translating our research findings into practical, effective recommendations for improving health, safety, and productivity.
In one such pioneering effort in the early 1990s, NIOSH joined with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in developing a guidebook to help building owners and managers prevent, identify, and correct indoor air problems; this manual, available on the web at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/baqtoc.html, is still widely used. More dramatically, results from scores of Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs) and other NIOSH research studies underpin much of today’s scientific literature on remediating indoor environmental problems in offices, schools, government buildings, and other non-industrial workplaces.
NIOSH’s leadership was recognized again last month when Surgeon General Richard Carmona convened a two-day Surgeon General’s Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment on the campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. NIOSH researchers helped plan the conference, participated in the Jan. 12-13 discussions on the current priority research needs for improving the health of employees in indoor environments, and joined with other participants to suggest next steps for ensuring healthier indoor environments for all Americans. The Surgeon General’s keynote remarks are available at http://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/news/speeches/01122005.html#two.
Concerns have risen significantly over the past two decades in regard to chemical offgassing, mold, environmental tobacco smoke, and other indoor pollutants. As Dr. Carmona noted in his remarks, one gauge of this trend can be found in the requests that come to NIOSH for technical assistance under our Health Hazard Evaluation program. In just the past 25 years, the percentage of HHEs related to indoor-air quality has increased from 0.5 percent of all evaluations in 1978, to 52 percent of all evaluations since 1990. This means that in the past three decades, the evaluations related to air quality concerns have increased from one of every 200 evaluations to one of every two.
In its formal workshop presentation, NIOSH identified several high priority research needs related to healthy indoor environments:
needs are very much reflected in our indoor environment research planning.
We are particularly pleased that several of our programs for bolstering
research partnerships – including the National Occupational
Research Agenda (NORA), Research to Practice (r2p), and Steps to
a Healthier U.S. Workforce – offer promising avenues for designing and carrying
out new collaborative studies in this area. Further information on NIOSH’s
indoor environmental quality research program is available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv/.
sure to check out the recently updated Steps to a HealthierUS Workforce
Symposium web page. Additions to the site include proceedings from
the October 2004 Symposium, a list of speakers and panelists, and a section
featuring articles about the Symposium. The updated
web site is http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/steps/2004/symposium.html.
part of the “Next
Steps” to the Steps Initiative, look for the Steps display
on exhibit at upcoming meetings and conferences throughout this year
including the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Health and Safety Conference,
April 25-27 in Houston, TX and the American Society of Safety Engineers
(ASSE) Conference and Exhibition, June 12-14 in New Orleans, LA.
Inquiries about the Initiative and recent symposium can be sent to NIOSHsteps@cdc.gov.
|NIOSH, Georgetown University Center Sign Research, Business Education Agreement|
NIOSH and the Center for Business and Public Policy (CBPP) at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Jan. 28 to foster the integration of occupational safety and health with economic research and university-level business curricula. The agreement establishes a framework for the development of collaborative programs and projects by the partners. As a first step, the partners pledge to develop a plan of action for developing and pursuing those objectives. The MOU will be in effect for two years.
“We are pleased
to join with Georgetown University to nurture an emerging generation
of business leaders who will value safe, healthy, and productive workplaces
as a key for staying competitive and maintaining a strong U.S. economy
in the 21 st Century,” said NIOSH Director
John Howard, M.D. “Among other research priorities, NIOSH’s Research
to Practice (r2p) and Steps to a Healthier U.S.
Workforce initiatives will provide a strong foundation
for this partnership.” More information on this initiative
is available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-01-28-05.html.
It was an unusual, puzzling, and – as it turned out – potentially life-threatening situation. The occupants of a newly built home in West Virginia were experiencing episodic shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion, headache, and fatigue when they were in their basement. Contractors working at the entrance to a crawlspace in the house experienced rapid heart rates and breathlessness. When firefighters arrived in response to a call from the contractors, one felt a rush of air from the crawlspace that “took his breath away.” But environmental measurements of suspected culprit gases – such as carbon monoxide and methane – were below detectable limits.
Responding to a request
from the state Department of Environmental Protection for technical
assistance, and working in concert with the state, the homeowners,
and others, NIOSH conducted a scientific investigation which verified
suspicions that the hazard was caused by the displacement of oxygen
by carbon dioxide. Further
details about the investigation, and recommendations for reducing the risk
of carbon dioxide for workers, emergency responders, and homeowners under
similar circumstances, were outlined in an article in the Dec. 24, 2004
, issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity & Mortality
Weekly Report. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5350a5.htm.
First-year doctors in clinical training, or medical interns, who work shifts of longer than 24 hours are more than twice as likely to have a car crash leaving the hospital and five times as likely to have a "near miss" incident on the road as medical interns who work shorter shifts, according to a study co-funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that was reported in the January 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The article, "Extended
Work Shifts and the Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes among Interns," is
the third in a series of studies on the impact of extended work hours
and fatigue upon interns conducted by the Divisions of Sleep Medicine
at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard Medical School
in Boston. All three were co-funded by NIOSH
and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services. The new article is available on line
Best of luck to Richard Metzler, who will retire March 1 from his position as Director of NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL). Rich was the first person to hold this position. Under his leadership, NPPTL quickly organized after its creation in 2001 to meet new challenges and opportunities for NIOSH. Among other accomplishments, NPPTL rapidly established a rigorous testing program for respirators intended to be used by first responders in potential terrorist attacks and other catastrophes; the first certifications for such devices were issued within months of the World Trade Center and anthrax attacks. Rich led NPPTL in partnership with the International Standards Organization to develop international respirator standards. He also led strategic planning as all NIOSH research on personal protective equipment was consolidated into NPPTL. Rich originally joined NIOSH in 1991. Prior to becoming NPPTL Director, he served with the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Air Force, for a total of 31 years of federal service.
NPPTL Deputy Director
Les Boord will serve as Acting Director until a new Director is named.
With extensive technical knowledge of respirators and years of technical
and managerial experience in the respirator manufacturing industry
before joining NIOSH in 2001, Les will continue to provide seasoned
leadership for NPPTL.
Congratulations to David N. Weissman, M.D. on his appointment (effective Jan. 23) as the Director of NIOSH's Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS), succeeding Gregory Wagner, M.D.
Dr. Weissman is
a graduate of Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, earning
both a Bachelor of Science (1976) and a Doctor of Medicine (1978) degree.
He did his internal medicine internship at Michael Reese Hospital and
Medical Center in Chicago and both his internal medicine residency,
and fellowship training in pulmonary medicine and allergy-immunology,
at Tulane University in New Orleans. Dr. Weissman is a diplomate of
the American Board of Internal Medicine (1982), the American Board of
Allergy and Immunology (1985), and the American Board of Internal Medicine,
Subspecialty in Pulmonary Diseases (1986). Dr. Weissman began his NIOSH
career in 1997 as a senior medical officer in the Clinical Investigations
Branch of DRDS.
Ashley, a Ph.D. research chemist with the NIOSH Division of Applied
Research and Technology (DART) received a Foreign Visiting
Researcher Award from the Japan Industrial Safety and Health Association
(JISHA). Dr. Ashley was hosted by Norihiko Kohyama, director of the
Department of Work Environment of the National Institute of Industrial
Health (NIIH) in Kawasaki during his working visit in November 2004. The
working visit reflected Japan’s interest in fostering international collaborations with
NIOSH related to industrial hygiene chemistry. For further information,
contact Kevin Ashley, KAshley@cdc.gov.
deaths from “rat-bite fever,” a rare
disease caused by infection with Streptobacillus moniliformis,
calls attention to a potential occupational risk for individuals who
handle rats in duties as pet shop employees, and a potential recreational
risk for people who own pet rats, according to cases reported in the
Jan. 7 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
One case involved a pet shop employee who was bitten in the store by
a rat two days before onset of symptoms, and the other involved a previously
healthy woman who owned pet rats. Fatal rat-bite fever is a rare, systemic
illness with a fatality rate as high as 10% among untreated patients.
Recommendations include increased surveillance and diagnosis of individuals
reporting rat exposures and prevention of zoonotic infections among individuals
with occupational and recreational exposure to rats. The report is available
New findings from a study by NIOSH and the Pacific Health Research Institute, a non-profit research institute located in Honolulu, provide further evidence that a protein in the human brain, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), can serve as a valuable marker to identify types of brain damage associated with dementia that might not be identified through traditional histopathology.
are published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Vol.
6, No. 6. An abstract is available online at http://www.j-alz.com/issues/6/vol6-6.html.
The study is part of NIOSH’s program of ongoing health-effects research,
including work on the development and use of new biomarkers to advance the
prevention of work-related neurological disorders.
On-the-job trainers are often selected by companies for their job skills. Yet, they may have little or no experience teaching those skills to others. Researchers from the NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory are planning a series of train-the-trainer seminars to help prepare safety practitioners and others to conduct a workshop that will assist experienced miners to effectively teach safety skills and practices to new miners. Strategies for successful coaching will be taught and practiced. The “How to Conduct a Coaching Skills Workshop for On-the-Job Trainers” will be held at the following dates and locations.
For more information on these upcoming seminars, contact Robert
H. Peters at RPeters@cdc.gov.
Stop by and chat with NIOSH staff at the NIOSH Exhibit Booth at these upcoming conferences.
Customer use highlights the successful implmentation of a NOSH research product. The product is a CD-ROM-based computer model developed by NIOSH and collaborating organizations, in conjunction with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, to help users of air-purifying respirators predict the “end of service life” (ESL) for respirator cartridges designed to protect against toxic organic vapors. ESL is the juncture at which time a toxic vapor will begin to penetrate a given filter, due to normal degradation of the filter over time. OSHA, beginning in 1998, has required employers to use ESL indicator devices that will alert users to replace cartridges in time to prevent toxic exposures from occurring. Such devices are unavailable for organic-vapor cartridges, necessitating the use of a predictive computer model as the next best thing.
Although ESL models for organic-vapor cartridges have been developed, they lacked an important feature that the NIOSH model provides. This is the incorporation of relative humidity into the various workplace factors (such as temperature, pace of work, and contaminant levels) that affect the integrity and performance of the filter. Humidity is a key factor, since it can reduce service life by 80 percent. In the 12 months since the program was made available in software form and uploaded to OSHA’s Web site as a compliance assistance tool (along with a user-friendly video tutorial):
on the product, including a list of the many partners that helped in
its development, is available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-12-22-03.html.
An updated version of the model will be released early this year, and
NIOSH is developing a similar model for filter cartridges used against
The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) recently unveiled its newly redesigned newsletter, NORA News. NORA News informs readers of team activities, recent publications, and current trends in occupational safety and health. The revised newsletter responds to NORA partners’ and stakeholders’ requests for shorter, worker focused materials that demonstrate impact in workplace safety and health. New features now include worker tips, summaries of NORA related documents, and links to NIOSH resources. The latest edition can be accessed at http://www2a.cdc.gov/NORA/newsletters/pdfs/nnewswin05.pdf.
is constantly seeking to improve its communication products and requests
your feedback. How do you use NORA information in your job? Your helpful
suggestion will earn a highlight in NORA News. Please send
your suggestions to Melissa Van Orman at email@example.com.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
recently released a new document to assist hospitals in safeguarding
their employees who care for patients during mass casualty incidents. OSHA
Best Practices for Hospital-Based Receivers of Victims from Mass Casualty
Incidents Involving the Release of Hazardous Substances offers
critical information to help hospitals develop and implement emergency
management plans based on worst-case scenarios. Among the topics covered
are victim decontamination, personal protective equipment, and employee
training. The document can be accessed at http://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/bestpractices/firstreceivers_hospital.html.
9476: Analysis of Mine Fires for All U.S. Metal/Nonmetal
Mining Categories, 1990-2001
Exposures Research Agenda - A Report by the NORA Mixed Exposures
Workers at Risk
Beryllium Research Symposium-Be2005
International Conference on Work Environment and Cardiovascular
Applied Ergonomics Conference
International Workshop on Environmental Monitoring and Silica Dust
for Papers: Work, Stress and Health 2006: Making a
Difference in the Workplace
and Environmental Exposures of Skin to Chemicals-2005
International Symposium on Modern Principles of Air Monitoring
Personal Protective Equipment - Challenges in Protecting First Responders
Attendees will learn
about the hazards faced by emerging threats, the application of personal
protective equipment (PPE) technology to these threats, and associated
challenges with selecting and interfacing different PPE items. The
emphasis of the conference will be on practical issues of threat accommodation,
standards, regulations, applications of best practices, manufacturing
and distribution issues, PPE decision-making and purchasing, and multi-PPE
integration. More information on the conference can be found at http://www.conted.vt.edu/appe or
by contacting Tom Fisher at Tfisher@cdc.gov.
(glial fibrillary acidic protein): a
structural protein found in some glial cells following damage
to nervous tissue from various physical and chemical insults
and during some
disease processes. Glial cells provide nutrition and maintenance
to the nerve cells (e.g., provide myelin for axons, maintaining ionic
balance, clean up after cell damage or death, etc.). Some evidence
indicates that certain types of glia (esp. astrocytes) may serve information-processing
roles as well.
reference to “NIOSH Education Research Center” in
the January issue of NIOSH eNews, in the featured story “NIOSH-Funded
Study Reveals Multidrug Resistant Bacteria at Swine Feeding Facilities,” should
have read “NIOSH Education and Research Center.”