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PERSONAL PROTECTIVE TECHNOLOGY

worker wearing a respirator

Activities: NIOSH Funded Research Grants

NIOSH sponsors research and training through its extramural programs, which complement the Institute's intramural programs. More information is available from the NIOSH Office of Extramural Programs. The NIOSH grants applicable to the PPT Program are summarized below. Realizing that the universe of PPT is far-reaching, we have included extramural grants outside of NIOSH in the Other Research Grants section for reference. Outputs and associated results from both NIOSH extramural grants and other extramural grants are being evaluated for consideration as inputs to future program planning.

Active Hearing Protectors and Audibility of Critical Communications

Users of hearing protection devices (HPDs), including the communication headsets and helmets commonly worn by aircraft air and ground crews, military personnel, emergency responders and persons in industry, mining and construction working in noisy environments, have long complained that HPDs interfere with their ability to communicate and to hear warning signals. A potential solution could be combining the technology of active noise control with signal processing applied to a communication channel built into the HPD. The combination could improve noise reduction at low frequencies and enhance the intelligibility of speech reproduced by the communication channel, while maintaining the overall noise reduction within occupational exposure requirements and the perception of a warning sound outside the HPD. Research to achieve these goals is proposed based on an active circumaural earmuff equipped with miniature earphones and microphones, and independent frequency bands of signal processing. Various levels of signal processing complexity are considered to optimize the speech signal-to-noise ratio and reduce the influence of the upward spread of masking. The demonstration of proof of principle is preceded by the establishment of subject-based (subjective) and instrument-based (objective) metrics for determining active and passive noise reduction, speech intelligibility, and the perception of warning sounds (subjective method only). The objective metrics, which provide approximate results in a fraction of the time required for subjective measurements, are to serve as surrogates for the corresponding subjective metrics during device development. To address users’ complaints that HPDs interfere with communication, research will focus on a specialized HPD designed specifically to: 1) improve speech intelligibility of a built-in communication channel; 2) maintain the perception of alarm signals external to the HPD; and 3) maintain attenuation of environmental noise.

Project contact: Anthony Brammer
University of Connecticut School of Medicine/DNT
brammer@uchc.edu
Project period: 2006-2011


Adsorption of Gas Phase Contaminants

Respiratory protection represents the last resort for protection against harmful contaminants. However, in their daily work activity a large number of workers rely on respirators for their protection. In the case of gas phase contaminants, cartridges containing adsorbing material are used to remove the gases and vapors from the breathing zone. Pure or impregnated Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) is the main adsorbent used in respirators for a large number of vapors and gases which may exist in the workplace. A number of drawbacks including low capacity, low selectivity and the requirement of expensive and sometime difficult to wear cartridges as containment, makes GAC a less than ideal adsorbent. Activated Carbon Fibers (ACF) present a number of advantages over GAC including better adsorption capacity and faster kinetics, but they are much more expensive than GAC and have not been considered a viable alternative. The development of a new ACF family using inexpensive glass fibers as a substrate for carbonized phenolic resin makes ACF more competitive. The new microporous composite materials, Fibrous Porous Materials (FPMs) have shown improved adsorption performance over GAC in the adsorption of a number of compounds. However their use in respiratory protection has not yet been explored. The research proposed here aims to investigate the properties of the FPMs relevant to their use in respiratory protection against gas phase contaminants. This research will bring a better understanding of the ACF adsorption process in general and the applicability of these materials for respiratory protection by investigating: 1. The adsorption characteristics of FPMs for a number of gases, vapors and mixtures under dynamic conditions, 2. The applicability of relevant adsorption models to predict the adsorption efficiency and service life of respiratory devices using FPMs, 3. The effect of fiber orientation and packing density on the pressure drop and adsorption efficiency of cartridges using FPMs.

Project contact: Claudiu T. Lungu
University of Alabama at Birmingham
clungu@uab.edu
Project period: 2005-2009


Advanced Gas Sensor

The underground use of diesel equipment introduces high concentrations of toxic gases such as CO, NO and NO2 into a confined atmosphere. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has determined that diesel exhaust is a potential human carcinogen, based on a combination of chemical, genotoxicity, and carcinogenicity data. This is due to the particulate matter in the diesel exhaust. In addition, acute exposures to diesel exhaust have been linked to health problems such as eye and nose irritation, headaches, nausea, and asthma. Many of these symptoms can be associated with the gaseous components of diesel exhaust. Currently, underground miners can be exposed to over 100 times the typical environmental concentration of diesel exhaust and over 10 times that measured in other workplaces. In addition, miner exposure to diesel emissions promises to become more widespread as diesel equipment becomes more prevalent within the mining industry. To measure the gaseous components of diesel exhaust underground, Giner, Inc. proposes to develop a lightweight, compact low cost instrument that can simultaneously monitor CO, NO and NO2. In addition, since diesel engines require O2 for the combustion process, the proposed instrument will also monitor O2 levels. Unlike other multi-gas sensors that require separate sensor cells for each gas, the novel feature of this instrument is the use of a single sensor cell to detect all 4 gases. This will result in a considerable cost savings, compared to commercially available instruments. The final instrument can either be a battery-powered, handheld, portable instrument, or can be designed to be mounted in a fixed location on a wall or suspended from the mine ceiling. The aims of the Phase I program are: 1: To fabricate advanced sensor cell assemblies; 2: To conduct parametric sensor cell testing; 3: To compare the response to a commercially available instrument, and 4: To conduct an economic analysis. To satisfy these aims, we propose to demonstrate the feasibility of operating a thick film sensor cell that contains multiple sensing electrodes. An innovative membrane will be used to increase the sensor sensitivity and response time. In this Phase I program we will demonstrate multi-gas sensor cell operation. The response of the advanced sensor will be compared to that of a commercially available, MSHA-approved instrument. Finally, an economic analysis will be conducted to predict the manufacturing price of both the multi-gas sensor cell and the complete sensing instrument. All technical work will be conducted at Giner, Inc. with specialized fabrication being performed at select vendors. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Underground miners can be exposed to over 100 times the typical environmental concentration of gaseous diesel exhaust components and over 10 times that measured in other workplaces. The development of a compact, low-cost, lightweight instrument is proposed to monitor these levels; the instrument can be used both underground and above ground to measure toxic gas concentrations in the workplace.

Project contact: John Kosek
GINER, INC.
jkosek@ginerinc.com
Project period: 2008


Assessment Methods for Nanoparticles in the Workplace

Project contact: Patrick O'Shaughnessy
University of Iowa
patrick-oshaughnessy@uiowa.edu
Project period: 2005-2008


Centers for Construction Safety and Health

The objective of the CPWR Construction Center is to provide an integrated, multidisciplinary program to improve safety and health in the construction industry which will 1) build on CPWR's 15-year experience and the current base of knowledge, 2) intensify and accelerate the identification and adoption of evidence-based best practices throughout the industry, and 3) evaluate changes in safety and health outcomes. In addition, the center provides special emphasis in three areas where performance should be improved: special populations (especially Hispanic), small-to medium-sized employers, and non-traditional agents for safety and health (e.g., owners/clients, architects and engineers.) The specific aims address exploration research (to define major safety and health needs and potential solutions in terms that are meaningful to the industry); intervention/prevention research (to maintain and continuously update an inventory of evidence-based best practices, test and evaluate risk reduction strategies, and identify barriers to the diffusion and adoption of best practices); and translation research (to promote the adoption of evidence-based best practices by workers, employers and industry-wide organizations, evaluate impact of diffusion, and continuously improve on diffusion strategies). This program consists of an administrative, planning, and outreach core and 27 projects. The core provides oversight of and integrates the individual projects, provides outreach, facilitates contact between researchers and the industry, and evaluates the impact of the program via national and regional data on scientific progress, industry practices, and injury and illness outcomes.

Project contact: Pam Susi
Center to Protect Workers Rights
pstafford@cpwr.com
Project period: 2004-2009


Cooling Suit for First Responders

When responding to a chemical spill or other hazardous cleanup operation, first responders must frequently wear a level A hazardous materials suit. These suits protect the first responder from chemical exposure by completely sealing the wearer against external vapors and liquids. Because the suits are sealed, a fresh air supply is required which is typically provided by a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). In total, the SCBA/impermeable suit provides contaminant free air and a barrier to the chemical hazard. Unfortunately, because the suits are sealed, they quickly get very hot and humid. Given the fact that a first responder can be in the suit from 30-60 min, overheating is not just a source of discomfort, but is a real hazard to the health of the first responder. In addition, perspiration condenses on the inside of the faceplate obscuring vision, and the heat/humidity buildup in the suit severely limits the time that can be spent in the suit without risking heat exhaustion. TDA Research, Inc. (TDA) proposes to develop a lightweight, portable system that will both cool and dehumidify the air circulated through a hazmat suit. TDA will use a heat exchanger to transfer heat from the inside of the suit to the dirty environment, but keeps the clean and contaminated air streams separate. The dry (about 15% RH) clean air is cooled to about 770F and returned to the first responder. The cool, dry air is distributed to the hands, head, and feet within the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with a lightweight fabric, internal duct system. In the Phase I project, we will design and build a test heat exchanger to demonstrate our concept. In addition, we will perform a system analysis using a 2D software and a finite element analysis. The design analysis will form the basis of the prototype fabrication in the Phase II project.

Project contact: Girish Srinivas
TDA RESEARCH, INC
gsrinivas@tda.com
Project period: 2007-2008


Durable Visible Light-activated Antiviral Coatings for Fabrics Used for Personal

Influenza and other enveloped viruses are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide each year and cost the US economy over $70 billion each year in medical costs and lost work. A new approach to preventing the spread of viral infections in general, and influenza in particular, would be of benefit. Influenza enters the body through the nose or throat. NIOSH estimates that 90 million N95 filtering faceplate respirators will be needed to protect workers in the healthcare sector alone during a 42-day outbreak, likely requiring re-use of respirators. Opportunities exist for simple, efficacious decontamination methods that reduce the risk of infection through handling a contaminated respirator and that do not compromise respirator effectiveness. Using our proprietary technology, LaamScience is developing coatings useful for a durable, self-regenerating, and cost- effective N95 mask with a broad spectrum of viral inactivation. Importantly, the mechanism of inactivation will not lead to microbial resistance. We are developing a fiber treatment using photoactive dyes that inactivate enveloped viruses upon illumination with visible light. Candidate dyes have been chosen that generate the most singlet oxygen [the active antiviral agent] per unit light intensity for light sources simulating solar, incandescent, and fluorescent lighting. We propose to modify air filtration textiles with these dye coatings and test efficacy to significantly inactivate influenza viruses trapped on the face mask fiber. The objective of this phase I feasibility project is to develop effective, stable dye-carrier combinations that will provide inexpensive filtration textiles with high antiviral activity. Dye-carrier combinations will be optimized to preserve dye activity upon attachment to the carrier. Coating or "Finishing" methods will be defined for applying the photoactive dye-carrier combinations to air filtration surfaces that allow maximum singlet oxygen generation / antiviral activity. The efficacy of modified surfaces will be determined by dosing the surfaces with virus, exposing them to selected light intensities, temperature, and humidity conditions and assaying the rate and extent of viral inactivation. Milestones are: 1] Select the most cost-effective dye-carrier combinations that retain the highest level of singlet oxygen production and antiviral activity; 2] Develop an efficient, scaleable attachment method to retain maximum antiviral activity; 3] Determine coating stability and effectiveness under likely conditions of use. For commercialization the optimized coatings must inactivate more than 99.9% of a challenge inoculum of influenza virus within one hour under typical conditions of use. Our long-term objective is to use these coated fabrics to produce personal protective equipment capable of inactivating microorganisms, reducing the bioburden on these items and reducing the potential for disease transmission. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Masks and respirators are intended to reduce the wearer's exposure to small airborne particles including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The goal of the research is to determine feasibility of attaching a microbe- inactivating coating to material used in masks, thereby reducing the microbe burden on the mask surface and making it less likely that a user would contaminate their hands with active organisms when handling the mask. Ultimately this treatment will be incorporated into other personal protective equipment for first responders, healthcare personnel, and other essential workers to help reduce the incidence of infectious disease.

Project contact: Patrick Mize
LAAMSCIENCE, INC.
Project period: 2008


Enclosing Hood Effectiveness

Ventilation hoods are critical to protecting workers from airborne contaminant exposures, yet the experimental and theoretical knowledge about simple benchtop enclosing hoods provides an insufficient underpinning for design practice. The objective of this study is to provide a strong basis for design decisions regarding the most important variables encountered in the field. In addition, the study will answer fundamental questions concerning how key variables affect the protection efficiency. The specific aims are to determine the effects of hood airflow, cross-draft velocity, orientation, and hood size. Additional variables include spatial variability of hood face velocities, aerodynamic entries, and use of a flip-up sash. Numerical simulation (CFD) using a 3-D laser scan of the manikin will 1) allow extrapolation and interpolation to other conditions, 2) help explain the underlying mechanisms responsible for contaminant transport, and 3) help develop simple mathematical models of the effects of variables on hood performance. Particle image velocimetry will allow visualization and quantification of flow fields, providing the potential to find transitions visually. Experiments will be performed in a 9' high, 12' wide, 50’ long wind tunnel using ethanol as a tracer gas (<100ppm) to expose both human subjects and an anthropomorphic, heated, breathing manikin. The human subjects will do make-work tasks while working at each hood. The manikin will be posed as if doing the same work. Each test condition will be replicated, with tests and replication mixed in a single random order. Air velocities will be determined using a particle image velocimeter (PIV) and a 2-D constant temperature anenometer. Results from the experimental findings will be used to cross-validate CFD predictions. Human and manikin results will be compared to allow validation of manikins as surrogates for humans and to provide a basis of comparison to studies done using only manikins.

Project contact: Steven Guffey
West Virginia University
seguffey@mail.wvu.edu
Project period: 2006-2009


Firefighter Mask

Each year, an estimated 80,000 fire fighters battle wildfires, spending long durations at the fire front where they are exposed to high levels of smoke and heat. Sudden changes in weather or fire conditions increase the chances of being entrapped by a wildfire or caught in the burnover of an advancing fire front. Wildfire smoke contains toxic components, including particulates, high levels of VOCs, acids, and carbon monoxide. In addition, many fire fighters are injured or killed by heat-damaged airways or lungs, caused by breathing superheated air; this risk is greater than that from external burns. Fire experts stress that the MOST important aspect of protection when working near a wildfire is to protect the respiratory tract. Currently, however, there is no suitable device available to protect fire fighters from exposure to all these dangers. TDA Research, Inc. (TDA) proposes to develop a portable device that will enable firefighters to work near or escape from the harsh environments present at the fire front. In the Phase I project, TDA will test the device concept on a laboratory scale under simulated wildfire environments. At the end of the Phase I project, TDA will have a prototype design for this portable device. /Public Health Relevance Statement In this study, a portable device will be developed to enable fire fighters to work near, or escape from, the harsh environments at the flame front of a wildfire. This research is relevant to public health because it will protect fire fighters when they are fighting fires that threaten public resources and residential areas. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: In this study, a portable device will be developed to enable fire fighters to work near, or escape from, the harsh environments at the flame front of a wildfire. This research is relevant to public health because it will protect fire fighters when they are fighting fires that threaten public resources and residential areas.

Project contact: Girish Srinivas
TDA RESEARCH, INC.
gsrinivas@tda.com
Project period: 2008


Formaldehyde Sensor for Environmental and Industrial Monitoring

Formaldehyde is among the 25 most abundantly produced chemicals in the world and is used in a variety of manufacturing processes. There are serious health risks in utilizing formaldehyde, however, as it is a suspected human carcinogen that causes severe irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Unfortunately, current detection methods are inadequate because they require bulky, expensive equipment or off-site spectrochemical analysis. To address these issues, this SBIR proposal describes the development of a small, inexpensive sensor for measuring the concentration of formaldehyde in real-time. The proposed approach will involve selective preconcentration of formaldehyde from the atmosphere into a thin polymer film. The characteristic infrared (IR) absorptions of formaldehyde will be used for selective detection at very low concentrations (between 0.05 and 20 ppm), which encompass both the OSHA permissible exposure limit of 0.75 ppm and short-term exposure limit of 2 ppm. Technical aims of the project include the synthesis and characterization of the polymer sorbent layer in addition to the characterization of sensor performance in the presence of formaldehyde vapor. The proposed approach is specifically designed to protect the 2 million workers who encounter this gas on a regular basis in the chemical industry. Furthermore, the sensor platform can be readily adapted for indoor air quality or environmental monitoring applications as well.

Project contact: Christopher Marotta
ELTRON RESEARCH, INC.
eltron@eltronresearch.com
Project period: 2007-2008


Low-Cost Personal Monitor for Organophosphate Pesticide Exposure

This Small Business Innovation Research project addresses the development of a novel, low-cost monitor for organophosphate-based pesticide exposure. Organophosphate pesticides are highly toxic compounds used to control insect populations in a number of agricultural and landscaping applications. Workers are exposed to these chemicals during pesticide manufacture, transport, mixing, and application. Exposure can occur via three pathways: oral, dermal, and inhalation. The proposed monitor will measure vapor phase concentration. Selective chemiresistor microsensors for detecting organophosphate based pesticides (e.g., Terbufos and Diazinon) will be developed during Phase I. The response characteristics of prototype devices will be evaluated and optimized in the presence of these chemicals as well as water vapor and other gas- phase interferents commonly found in real-world environments. Detection limits, response time, sensor stability, and other key performance metrics will be determined. Phase I results will prove the feasibility of developing a stand-alone personal exposure monitor during Phase II. The personal monitor developed under this program will provide real-time detection of organophosphate pesticides. Cost-effective and accurate monitoring will allow workers to identify and avoid dangerous situations. Integrated data-logging capabilities will provide employers, regulators, and researchers with reliable exposure records.

Project contact: John Faull
ELTRON RESEARCH, INC.
eltron@eltronresearch.com
Project period: 2007-2008


Measuring Human Fatigue with the BLT (Bowles-Langley Technology) Prototype

Accidents caused by errors and inattention have long plagued industrial society. Many of these accidents are the result of operator fatigue or health-related issues affecting alertness, such as drug side-effects. An effective and practical tool to screen individuals for temporary impairment before they start work is vital and urgent. Bowles-Langley Technology, Inc. has developed a computer test to quickly assess an individual's level of fatigue and alertness. The test measures a number of brain performance factors using a computer game-like graphic. Subjects respond by pressing either a YES or a NO button on the tester. Subjects are measured in comparison to their own baseline. This system will screen workers on a daily or periodic basis. Users will include truck drivers, bus drivers, airline pilots, rail workers, air baggage inspectors, and maritime workers. Phase I trials showed the software to be sensitive to mild fatigue. The current objective is to increase software stability and to test validity using statistical analysis of experimental results. Tests will be conducted with human subjects at Bowles-Langley Technology's facilities and at the Circadian Technology Sleep Lab. An additional trial will be conducted in a workplace setting with hospital emergency workers. Data will be analyzed using modern Item Response Theory and other statistical methods. The trials will be conducted using the PC platform, but the intended platform is a patented tester suitable for industrial locations. These testers may be quickly deployed and have wide commercial application.

Project contact: Theodore Langley
Bowles-Langley Technology, Inc.
hbowles@bowles-langley.com
Project period: 2006-2008


Multipurpose Protective Clothes for Emergency Responders

Project contact: Yuyu Sun
University of Texas, Austin
yysun@mail.utexas.edu
Project period: 2005-2008


The Northeast Center for Agricultural Health

The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), in partnership with investigators from Penn State (PSU), Cornell (CD), SUNY-Albany, Harvard (H) and Connecticut (UConn), proposes another 5 years of support for the Northeast Center for Agricultural Health. The goals of the Northeast Center (NEC) remain unchanged: 1) focus on issues epidemiologically identified as high-risk in the Northeast; 2) address populations known or suspected to be facing increased risk; 3) reach out to resources throughout the Northeast; 4) collaborate actively with NIOSH and other national resources; and 5) carefully evaluate all education and prevention projects. In pursuit of these goals, NEC will focus upon activities that emphasize significant community input and rely upon ergonomic re-design and engineering modification. The administrative core based at NYCAMH provides feasibility projects and outreach that serve the entire region. The administrative core also provides project design and statistical support to center projects desiring these services. Project/center evaluation will be reported to an external board, NIOSH, and the joint centers evaluation effort (Goals 4, 5). A research core plans two exploratory -1) hearing loss in farm youth (H) and 2) cytokine levels and in farmers (SUNY) -- and three R01 projects. Proposed now is continuing work on: 3) safe tractor operation (PSU) and a new 5-year effort that will use emergency medical services reports to build a 4) New York statewide agricultural injury surveillance system (NYCAMH). A later supplementary application will propose a 5) comparison of two interventions for musculoskeletal disease in nursery workers (UConn). These projects address Goals 1, 2 and 3. Total funding for research activities is 32% of total direct costs. Three prevention (28% total budget) proposals include 1) effectiveness of NAGCAT; 2) community-based migrant intervention (UConn) and a related "Northeast Community Intervention Network" (NYCAMH); and examination of 3) loss control methodology to reduce injuries (CU). These address Goals 1, 2, 3, and 4. Three translation projects (27% total budget) include: 1) social marketing of rollover protection (NYCAMH), 2) marketing of an ergonomic apple bucket (NYCAMH), and 3) safe entry of manure facilities (PSU). These projects, all successful research initiatives from NEC's last cycle, address Goals 1, 2, 3, and 4. In addition to the proposed network of community-based teams, six projects rely heavily on community input. Six projects are devoted to engineering/ergonomic solutions for significant Northeastern problems.

Project contact: John May
Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital
jmay@nycamh.com
Project period: 2006-2011


On-Line Ergonomics Solutions for General Industry

The purpose of this project is to develop a website devoted to providing ergonomics solutions to help reduce the risk factors for workplace Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)in general industry. The website will be searchable and browsable by task, industry, and MSD risk factor. Solutions will include commercially available products, equipment modifications that can be made in-house, and improved work methods. These solutions will be adapted from the PI's library of reports, photographs, and other information that have been accumulated over a 30-year period in ergonomics consulting projects performed in over 1300 individual workplaces. In a survey of existing websites, researchers found no websites currently available with the breadth and level of detail planned for the proposed product. The solutions will be organized and described in a manner that is educational, helping users to understand the appropriate application of each, including standard pros and cons and possible unintended consequences. Furthermore, an overview "tutorial" on background ergonomics principles will be provided, along with links to additional support materials, such as books, training videotapes, and analytic tools. Thus, this website constitutes a component of a larger package of support. The solutions will be oriented towards reduction of specific risk factors for MSDs that are well- established in the scientific literature (primarily methods to improve awkward postures and reduce exertion, but also including techniques to reduce motions, contact stress, and static loading of muscles). The target users of this website are personnel such as occupational safety staff and production engineers from individual workplaces in general industry that involve high risk for MSDs, i.e., those facilities that involve significant manual material handling and production operations whether categorized in the service industry or manufacturing sectors. The initial prototype website will focus on light manufacturing. The website will be designed to be easily expandable in the future to include other high risk occupational categories in general industry such as delivery services and maintenance tasks. The Phase I research objective is to evaluate the usability of the prototype ergonomics website. Core research questions include: (1) Does the website contain useful information? (2) Are topics and results easily found within the website? (3) Is this website more effective than current alternatives for finding possible engineering controls for MSDs? Selected individuals from this target user group will constitute the survey population. Evaluation of the website will include standard methods of website usability research, i.e., surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, and performance measurements. Phase I of this project will seek qualitative feedback from users and Phase II will address follow-up questions using greater emphasis on quantitative methods. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Work-related MSDs are the most prevalent, most expensive, and most preventable workplace injuries in the U.S. A major barrier to prevention efforts is for personnel in general industry to find practical information on feasible engineering controls for their specific and often unique operations. This project seeks to help reduce the scientifically established risk factors for work-related MSDs by converting a large library of known ergonomics solutions for general industry into a website that provides useful and easily accessible information.

Project contact: Dan Macleod
dan@danmacleod.com
Project period: 2009-2009


Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center

The Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center serves Northwest producers, workers, and their families in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The center's scope of work includes all three major agricultural industry sectors in the Northwest: farming, forestry, and fishing. With a special focus on labor-intensive agriculture and emphasis on populations such as hired farm laborers, other ethnic minority workers, women, and children, the center's overall aim is to prevent or reduce illness and injury among agricultural producers, workers, and their families. We will achieve this aim in the following ways: 1) conduct innovative laboratory-based and field-based research of direct value to the community; 2) develop, implement and evaluate effective intervention projects and educational programs; 3) translate research findings into useful products for producers, workers, health care providers, nongovernmental organizations, and government agencies in our region and throughout the nation; and 4) work collaboratively with other regional centers to formulate national programs and policies designed to reduce injury and illness among agricultural producers, workers, and their families. The PNASH Center is part of a vital national infrastructure dedicated to the health and well-being of agricultural communities. The center reflects a cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional and geographically diverse set of initiatives with the theme of promoting safe and sustainable agricultural workplaces and communities. Our goal is to highlight the need for an explicit recognition of the health and safety or workers within the concept of sustainable agriculture. In our view, the need for sustainable agricultural workplaces extends beyond the boundaries of agricultural production and into the rural communities that are the foundation of the agricultural economy. The many partnerships we have developed throughout the Northwest region enhance the coherence of our center. We look forward to working with these partners over the next 5 years.

Project contact: Richard Fenske
University of Washington
rfenske@u.washington.edu  
Project period: 2006-2011


Personal Cooling System Control Algorithm Development and System Optimization

Aspen System's long-term objective is to develop, optimize, and commercialize a high performance personal cooling system designed to safely protect workers in military, government, commercial and industrial occupations from heat stress and heat-related illness and injury. The cooling system is based on a miniature rotary vapor compressor developed by Aspen. The compressor is integrated with custom refrigeration components into a small, lightweight, mobile man-mountable cooling system. In the Phase 1 program, Aspen will focus on the development and optimization of the cooling unit through development and testing of an advanced thermal control method. Through the implementation of an optimal thermal feedback and control algorithm the vapor-compression cooling unit performance can be improved for increased mission length, reduction in power consumption, and possible reductions in system size and weight. The use of an "intelligent" control algorithm which captures the physiological interaction of the user and cooling garment can lead to improvements in system operability and optimization of the amount of cooling provided feasibility of the most-promising control approach(es). The current program offers the potential for commercialization of a robust vapor-compression personal cooling solution targeted for use by industrial and commercial workers without the logistics burden of existing products. The successful development and fielding of this improved personal cooling product for heat stress prevention allows for greater acceptance and widespread use of personal cooling and directly leads to a reduction in occupational injuries related to heat stress while increasing worker well-being and productivity. The application is of particular benefit to industrial and commercial workers with occupations which routinely expose them to heat-related hazards (HAZMAT) cleanup, mine rescue, firefighters, etc).

Project contact: Glenn Deming
ASPEN SYSTEMS, INC.
gdeming@aspensystems.com
Project period: 2007-2008


Respirator Effects in Impaired Workers

Project contact: Philip Harber
University of California, Los Angeles
pharber@mednet.ucla.edu
Project period: 2005-2010

 

Archived Expired NIOSH Funded Research Grants

 

 
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  • Page last updated: April 17, 2012
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