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RESEARCH TO PRACTICE (r2p)

Technology Solutions

Through our research efforts, NIOSH produces new scientific knowledge and practical solutions vital to reducing risks of injury and death in occupational settings and seeks the assistance of commercial partners to move these solutions into practical application and adoption. This is accomplished by granting licenses to parties wishing to further develop, use or commercialize these inventions. NIOSH invites interested parties to review our available technology solutions and contact Kathleen Goedel or the licensing contact noted for each technology with any inquiries or for additional licensing information.

Respiratory & Healthcare

Methods and Apparatus for Computer-Aided Cough Sound Analysis

​CDC researchers have developed a system that allows subjects to cough into a tubing system allowing the acoustics generated to be recorded with high fidelity and generated data is transferred to a computer for subsequent analysis. Lung diseases can be differentiated by the location of effect in the lungs that produce variations in cough sounds and patterns. Based on these differences, analysis software estimates the lung disease type of the subject. Those who benefit from cough sound analysis include subjects in the early stages of undetected lung disease, subjects with conditions not easily diagnosed by standard techniques, subjects who demonstrate difficulty performing forced expiratory maneuvers and other pulmonary function tests (e.g., elderly, young and very sick patients), and workers whose respiratory functioning may change during the workday.

Applications

  • Clinical screening for early-stage respiratory illnesses
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Physiological data collection and algorithmic analysis
  • Preventative and early intervention health care

Advantage

  • Increased accuracy in recorded observations
  • Improved objectivity in analysis compared to traditional auscultatory methods
  • Broadens the diagnostic toolset of primary/initial care physicians and respiratory therapists
  • Portable for field studies and on-site screening - diagnostic uses

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-245-2013

Physiologic Sampling Pump Capable of Rapidly Adapting to User Breathing Rate

This CDC-physiologic sampling pump (PSP) overcomes shortcomings of previous devices by the use of calibrated valves in conjunction with a constant speed pump. This novel approach obviates typical PSP inertia that inherently limits system response, functionality and accuracy. All prior PSP designs have attempted to follow a user's breathing pattern by changing pump speed, thereby altering sampling rate. In that approach, pump inertia will limit system response and function due to the time required to adjust speed. Additionally, variable pump speeds often produce size selective sampling errors at low flow rates.

Performance of this PSP is not degraded by pump inertia or low flow size selective sampling errors. This design maintains a consistent pump speed, controlling PSP sampling rate with calibrated valves that redirect air flow almost instantaneously. In situ device testing demonstrated that when this air-flow valve is properly integrated into a sampling head, response time of the PSP is essentially mutually exclusive of the magnitude of changes in the effective flow, facilitating consistently small error in sampling performance regardless of user-exertion scenario.

Applications

  • Air sampling device manufacturers
  • Assessing airborne hazard exposures for workplace safety
  • Industrial hygiene programs
  • Respiration monitoring device for patients
  • Aerobic training system for athletes

Advantage

  • Allows for air sampling to be modulated to follow breathing rate
  • Design obviates the sluggishness inherent in prior art physiologic sampling pumps (PSPs) caused by variable pump speed effect on sampling rate
  • Improved accuracy compared to earlier PSPs, irrelevant of user-exertion scenarios
  • Follows inhalation on a breath-by-breath basis

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-169-2013

Ultrasonic in situ Respirator Seal-Leakage Detection with Real-time Feedback Capabilities

​This CDC invention entails methods and apparatuses for in situ testing seal integrity and improved operation of respiratory masks (respirators). A variety of external factors, such as individual face shape, user environment, mask age and material used to construct the respirator, can lead to device malfunction and failure to sufficiently protect a user. To address these limitations, this invention relies on ultrasonic wave detection to assess face seal quality and other potential leak paths, as needed. Airborne ultrasound travel through atmosphere and will travel through respirator leaks. Applying this phenomena to occupational health and safety, CDC researchers have developed novel ultrasonics technology to identify and quantify respirator seal leakage in real-time. Small, low power consuming, and inexpensive apparatuses and methods for generating and detecting ultrasound may be easily obtained and customized for a given respirator and/or application.

By correlating user activity to seal sensor data, a precise understanding and awareness of respirator integrity may be obtained. When coupled with a subject alarm, these integrated values can immediately alert a user when a threshold of environmental exposure has been reached. Such real-time feedback will be invaluable to users in dangerous occupational activities, such as firefighters, biodefense and chemical spill first responders, mining applications, etc. Additionally, this invention possesses immense value for respirator mask manufacturers and workplace training programs for employees engaged in mandatory respirator usage applications.

Applications

  • Manufacturers of respirators, leakage assessment devices and applied ultrasonic technology
  • Regulators of respiratory protection plans
  • Biohazard, biodefense and hazardous chemical handling and disposal
  • Surgery/hospital training and use

Advantage

  • Small, low power consuming, and inexpensive apparatuses and methods may be employed
  • Real-time monitoring and feedback greatly diminish risk of user exposure to environmental hazards

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-174-2013

A Mobile, Self-Contained Airborne Infection Isolation Hood

During natural or manmade disasters, temporary medical or evacuation shelters are established, however patients residing in these shelters are at serious risk of exposure to airborne diseases. Within hospital settings, patients are typically placed in airborne infection isolation rooms to provide proper ventilation during an infection. Currently, there is no device to protect patients from airborne disease in temporary shelters.

NIOSH researchers have developed the first mobile protection against airborne infectious agents: a mobile isolation headboard (MIH) that provides emergency airborne infection isolation. The MIH consists of a hospital bed headboard that circulates air to prevent infection and can be plugged into a standard outlet or run on battery power during hands-on medical treatment. Importantly, this MIH provides airborne protection without needing to enclose the patient within a bubble or tent, ensuring that workers are protected during hands-on patient care.

Applications

  • Medical device for patients with infectious disease
  • Occupational health device to protect healthcare workers

Advantage

  • Currently no devices on the market for mobile airborne infectious isolation rooms
  • Ability to move the device during emergency situations
  • Able to provide patient care without working inside a bubble

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-589-2013

Flushed Seal for an Improved, More Protective, Negative-Pressure Respirator

This CDC-developed technology relates to improved, full-face flushed-seal personal respirators for lowering costs, improving user mobility, and ensuring occupational health and safety. Currently, the most common type of respirator in use, the negative pressure respirator, seals to a user’s face so that inhaled air is pulled through a purifying filter by inhalation-generated negative pressure; the weakest link in this type of respirator is typically the seal at the face-to-mask interface. When there is face-seal leakage, toxic air will be drawn into the facepiece of the respirator and inhaled by the wearer, though designers and engineers of respirators attempt to minimize this face-seal leakage. Over the last several decades, facepiece design has been optimized by this design approach so that the ambient leakage of half-facepiece respirators and full-facepiece respirators are 10% and 2%, respectively.

This technology incorporates an additional element to reduce face-seal leakage and therefore increases user protection. In the respirator described by this technology, a primary sealing element is situated adjacent to the user's breathing space and a secondary sealing element. Exhaled air (i.e., clean air obtained by filter passage) is passed from the breathing space into a flushing channel formed between the primary and secondary seals. If there is leakage in the primary seal, air from this flushing channel leaks into the breathing space rather than toxic, ambient air. Air within the flushing channel will predominately be air that has already passed through the filtering elements. The present invention provides, therefore, an inexpensive respirator which provides significantly more protection than conventional negative-pressure respirators. Further, at present the only alternative respirator types that offer such great levels of user protection are expensive, require heavy batteries and blowers or an airline, and have a limited service life.

Applications

  • Increased protection for first responders
  • Biodefense, military and/or chemical/environmental clean-up applications
  • Industrial-use personal respirator applications where extensive worker mobility is a requisite
  • Inexpensive alternatives for air-line systems or powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) that are currently in use

Advantages

  • Inexpensive to implement
  • Provides significantly more protection than conventional negative-pressure respirators
  • Unlike PAPR devices, no heavy, mobility-limiting battery packs are required for this technology; no battery recharge time or noisy blowers with this respirator technology
  • Compared to "air-line" respirators, this technology is significantly less expensive to purchase and maintain and does not limit the range of a user’s mobility

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-241-2013

Device to Measure Muscle Contractile-Relaxant and Epithelial Bioelectric Responses of Perfused, Intact Tracheal Airways Tissue In Vitro

CDC and collaborative researchers have developed a device allowing for simultaneous measurement of smooth muscle contractile/relaxant activity and transepithelial potential difference (Vt) [or short circuit currents (Isc)] and resistance (Rt) within an intact airway in vitro. Investigation of the underlying mechanisms of lung diseases, such as asthma or cystic fibrosis, involves understanding the roles of airway smooth muscle and epithelium. Smooth muscle is involved in the control of the airway diameter; epithelium regulates the ionic composition of the liquid lining the airways through electrogenic ion transport and releases factors that regulate the ability of smooth muscle to contract.

This invention allows for the measurement and study of pulmonary diseases under conditions retaining normal spatial relationships between all the cell types and an unmanipulated/undistorted tracheal airway wall. Further, the device permits evaluation of epithelial functional integrity using pharmacological techniques. Agents can be separately added to the lumen, where they must first cross the epithelium to reach the smooth muscle, or to the outside of the airway, where there is no hindrance of said agents to the muscle. The invention also permits the effective in vitro screening of the effects of agents and drugs on airway epithelium and smooth muscle within the same preparation.

Applications

  • Investigations into physiological mechanisms of airway diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and asthma
  • Screening of drugs and therapeutic compounds directed to complex, multi-tissue type matrices
  • Biomedical research exploring pharmacology-physiology integration

Advantages

  • Allows simultaneous measurement of transepithelial potential difference, transepithelial resistance, smooth muscle activity and changes in tracheal diameter
  • In vitro analysis of trachea or tracheal segments retaining native, in situ structure
  • Pharmacological agents may be added separately to the lumen for screening purposes
  • First and only such "single-preparation" device allowing for such broad array of data output

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-246-2013

Exposure Assessment & Analytical Devices

Computer Controlled Aerosol Generator with Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotube Inhalation Testing Capabilities

This invention pertains to a CDC developed sonic aerosol generator that provides a controllable, stable concentration of particulate aerosol over a long period of time for aerosol exposure studies.

Specifically, in situ testing data indicate uniform aerosol stability can be maintainable for greater than 30 hours at concentrations of 15 mg/m3 or more. Additionally, the technology was specifically developed for, and validated in, animal studies assessing exposure to airborne multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT). It has been suggested that workers may be at risk for exposure to nanosized particles during the manufacture, handling, and cleanup of engineered nanomaterials. Compared to other technologies, this CDC aerosol generator is particularly helpful when used for generating high testing concentrations of MWCNT aerosols that more accurately represent particulate levels that may be seen in a workplace environment.

Applications

  • Studying the size and shape of the aerosolized particles produced from simple vibrations of bulk material
  • Toxicological investigations and risk assessment of aerosol exposures, especially those related to nanoparticle manufacturing
  • Any aerosolization application where the aggregating “bird's nest” tendencies of airborne multi-walled carbon nanotubes must be overcome

Advantage

  • Fully automated system with integrated feedback control for optimized stability in testing
  • Maintains concentration of aerosols for >30 hours at concentrations of 15 mg/cubic meter or more
  • Capable of generating high concentrations of aerosols that more accurately represent the levels seen in a workplace environment
  • System insures that each run produces a constant particle concentration, air flow, pressure, temperature and humidity within a testing chamber

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-156-2013

Mining Safety: Personal Dust Monitor Filters for Accurate, Quantifiable Spectrometric Analysis and Assessment of Worker Exposure Levels

This CDC-developed invention pertains to a novel dust monitor filter that is specially constructed of organic materials for spectrometric analysis, ultimately allowing for detection and accurate quantification of a particular chosen analyte (e.g., crystalline silica/quartz dust that may lead to silicosis).

For miners, the risk of lung disease increases with the extent of dust exposure, and coal worker's pneumoconiosis (aka, black lung disease) and silicosis are still dangers routinely faced by those in the industry. Expectedly, both the concentration and the composition of airborne particulate matter present in mining environments are points of regulatory concern. For some time, collecting airborne dust samples and subsequent determination of quartz content have been integral for assessing mine worker exposure and demonstrating compliance with US Federal regulations.

Unfortunately, highly accurate spectrometric detection and quantification of particulate exposure has not always been possible. Generally, the filters used in existing oscillating microbalances (such as the TEOM® monitor) have been specially designed to for hydrophobicity, in order to retain as little moisture as possible on the filter. These specialized hydrophobic filters (and/or their mounting components) contain inorganic compounds that cannot be readily subjected to thermal or chemical destruction - a necessary first step of many instrumental analytical methods, such as spectroscopy.

This CDC-developed filter consists of entirely ashable material, making it ideal for spectrometric analysis and rapid exposure assessment. As an example, this dust monitor filter can be made entirely of organic materials and designed for quick, easy ashing that will not produce interference with the spectroscopic characteristics of the chosen analyte(s). Further, filter ashing can be carried out by a variety of methods: thermal ashing, microwave ashing, low temperature ashing, or chemical destruction.

Applications

  • Personal dust monitors worn wherever dust exposure levels and the presence of potentially injurious materials is evaluated
  • Occupationally-mandated pneumoconiosis, asbestosis and/or silicosis prevention and monitoring programs, for complying with safety regulations
  • Miners' wellness concern groups and insurance companies

Advantage

  • Novel dust-monitoring instrument capable of providing near rapid particulate exposure information to miners/users
  • Improves upon older technology by allowing for accurate detection and quantification of chosen analyte(s) and, unlike other filters, does not produce overlap or interfere with spectroscopic analysis
  • Filter can be easily ashed for analysis by thermal ashing, microwave ashing, low temperature ashing, or chemical destruction

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-312-2013

Air Quality Assurance: A Monitor for Continuous, Simultaneous Analysis of Atmospheric or Aerosolized Particulate Mixtures

This technology pertains to monitors for measuring the mass concentration of ambient particulate matter in an atmosphere containing both larger/coarser (e.g., respirable dust) and smaller/finer (sub-micrometer particles such as diesel particulate matter - DPM) particulate mixtures. The monitoring device can be configured for operation with a controller unit adapted to ionization sensor and/or light-scattering modules. The controller translates the sensor output signal into a quantifiable value, determining mass concentration of particulate matter within the ionization chamber. For example, practical applications of this monitor/analysis technology would easily extend to use in mining operations (where both DPM and respirable dust exist in abundance), industrial manufacturing facilities, and anywhere that frequent or extended exposure to fuel-combustion exhaust or airborne pollution is a concern. Further, by virtue of its ability to distinguish “fire smoke” from other aerosols that may be present, the device also has significant potential for use in early-warning fire detection.

Applications

  • Airborne particle monitor for mining and industrial manufacturing operations
  • Addressing emissions control standards and regulations
  • Early-warning fire detection in locations where traditional smoke-detector use is impractical

Advantage

  • Inexpensive and simple to implement
  • Device provides continuous, simultaneous, and independent measurement of both respirable dust and diesel particulate matter (DPM) mass concentrations
  • Previous particulate counting technologies are both expensive and cannot provide accurate quantification of coarse/fine aerosol mixtures, concentrations

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-240-2013

Inexpensive, Personal Dust Detector Tube/Dosimeter Operating on a Gas Detector Tube Platform

This CDC developed dust detector tube is designed to provide inexpensive, short-term, time weighted average dust exposure data feedback directly to device users. This invention operates upon a conventional gas detector tube platform and can be used with any low volume pump that can electronically measure pump back pressure. The device consists of three sections: the first defines the size of the dust and removes moisture, the second uses a filter whose pressure differential corresponds with cumulative dust loading, and a final section employs a pressure transducer.

Current methods require expensive instantaneous and short-term monitors or gravimetric filters that must be carefully pre- and post-weighed to determine the average dust exposure of a user's work-shift. This novel dust dosimeter fills the need for an inexpensive short-term determination of personal dust exposure aiding in the assessment and preservation of worker respiratory health.

Applications

  • Dust, gas and particulate detector/dosimeter manufacturers
  • Industry applications where worker-exposure to dust will be a concern, especially mining, construction and demolition fields
  • Worker health and safety, related insurance agency concerns

Advantages

  • Provides inexpensive, short-term assessment of personal dust exposure
  • Gas detector tube platform makes commercialization of this instrument quite simple and efficient for related manufacturers/distributors
  • Standardizing detection platforms increases cost-efficiency (especially for smaller companies) as the same pump can be used to measure both dust and gas

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-238-2013

Personal Air Sampler for Collecting Airborne Aerosol Particulates for Molecular Analysis

This invention consists of a sampling apparatus that utilizes one or more cyclone separators to collect airborne particles from the atmosphere. The apparatus not only separates out aerosols from the atmosphere, but also serves as a collection tube for aerosol particles. Through its unique design, this CDC-developed apparatus is able to use the centrifugal force of the air flow on aerosolized particles forcing them to separate. Since the sample is collected directly in a microcentrifuge tube, in situ analysis of the ambient particulates can be performed. Analysis may include, but is not limited to, PCR, immunoassay analysis, microscopic spore counting, and counting colony-forming units. The device should also have many additional uses for environmental surveillance and occupational health applications.

Applications

  • Analysis of ambient air particulates
  • Environmental surveillance
  • Occupational safety monitoring
  • Biodefense
  • Long-term exposure assessment

Advantage

  • Rapid, on-site sampling and analysis.
  • Alternative to surface-sampling and culturing for aerosolized biological agents.
  • Superior extraction efficiency compared to filters, impingers, and impactors.
  • Real-world testing demonstrated device's ability to collect airborne mold and mycotoxins, pollen and pollen fragments, airborne dust particulates, as well as airborne influenza virus in a hospital environment.

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-244-2013

Non-radioactive, Miniature Bipolar Aerosol Particle Charger for Personal, Portable Instrumentation

This CDC-developed invention is a novel device for a miniature, nonradioactive bipolar charger to electrically charge aerosol particles for use in personal and portable aerosol instrumentation. Such devices are an integral component of aerosol instruments employing electrical mobility-based techniques. Current, commercial state-of-the-art mobility instruments employ aerosol chargers using radioactivity to achieve bipolar particle charging and, therefore, are not suitable for field-portable instruments. Due to strict regulatory restrictions on use of radioactive materials, these radioactive chargers also tend to be too bulky for use in compact aerosolization instruments.

This invention circumvents these two critical drawbacks by eliminating radioactivity and miniaturizing overall unit size (1x0.75 x 0.5 inch). Other unique aspects of the invention entail elimination of the need for additional air flows (other than the aerosol sample flow), minimal power consumption, a low per-unit cost, and simplicity of operation. In all, excellent transmission efficiency, steady-state charging characteristics and the miniature size make this bipolar particle charger well-suited for integration with portable or personal aerosol instrumentation.

Applications

  • Personal and portable aerosol instrumentation
  • Component of field-use device for determining workplace/environmental exposure to ultrafine aerosols and airborne nanoparticles
  • Tool for environmental/occupational health, toxicology, workplace control evaluations and hazard identification involving aerosol exposure

Advantage

  • Non-radioactive; no associated regulatory or transportation issues
  • Low-cost and requires very little power to operate
  • Additional air flows other than sample airflow are unnecessary
  • Unit is small (1x0.75x0.5in;2.54x1.91x1.27cm) and highly portable
  • Eliminates a major barrier for reliable aerosol sampling using "bipolar charger + differential mobility analyzer + condensation particle detector" scheme in a compact device

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-146-2013

Mobile Instrumentation for the Detection and Sampling of Aerosol Particles

Hazardous airborne particles pose a risk for health and safety in a variety of environments and thus detection of these small particles is essential. Current particle magnification systems are bulky and require a lot of power for operation, making them unsuitable to easily detect and analyze small particles in mobile and personal settings.

CDC/NIOSH scientists have developed a space-saving miniature instrumentation and methods for the direct sampling and analysis of small particles (diameter < 300-400nm). The systems can effectively sample air at a rate of a few liters per minute and concentrate the particulate matter into microliter or milliliter liquid samples. The novel system uses proton exchange membranes to grow small particles for optical detection using standard methods. Further, these methods allow the system to separate condensation and aerosol flow to enhance user mobility. Moreover, the described methods use inexpensive materials and require low power for operation.

Applications

  • Condensation particle detectors
  • Particle size magnification systems
  • Microfluidic devices for sampling, detection, and growth of hazardous particles

Advantage

  • Cost-effective
  • Offers overall reduction of measurement time
  • Requires minimal power to operate
  • Mobile, wearable
  • Space-saving miniature systems as small as 1" x 1" x 3"

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-026-2014

System for Monitoring Exposure to Impulse Noise

This CDC-developed technology entails a system for monitoring and assessing the risk of auditory damage from exposure to impulse noise, such as noise created by construction machinery and firearms. Noise dosimeters have been used extensively over the past two decades to document personal exposure to noise and assure workplaces comply with permissible noise exposure levels. However, due to older methods of calculating "noise dose," current noise dosimeters often inaccurately determine the risk of an impulse event. Further, current state-of-the-art noise dosimeters have a sound pressure level (SPL) dynamic measurement range of about 80-146 dB, which is adequate for some impact noise environments, but cannot accurately measure impulse noise levels above 146 dB. When a dosimeter is used to measure a noise level greater than its dynamic range, the dosimeter “clips” the noise level at the upper end of its measurement range, resulting in errant assessments of noise exposure.

The system described by this technology can be used to measure exposure to impulse noise and replace older, "clipped-range" dosimeters. Additionally, this new technology will improve the collection of empirical data for establishing association of noise levels with hearing loss.

Applications

  • Assessment of potentially hazardous levels of impulse noise
  • Use by law enforcement officers, DOD infantry, armor and artillery personnel, and workers in the construction trades
  • Improving collection of empirical data to gauge risk and establish links to possible causes of hearing loss

Advantage

  • This technology will accurately quantify noise dose and measure impulse noise and avoid "clipping" artifacts associated with currently available noise dosimeters.

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-225-2013

Portable Exposure Assessment System for Prevention of Musculoskeletal Injury

CDC researchers have developed the Portable Exposure Assessment System (PEAS), a field-based, remotely deployed tool to monitor and provide early warning of working conditions that have a high likelihood of musculoskeletal injury. PEAS is a noninvasive, real-time, instrument-based system. Sensor technology simultaneously measures and collects data regarding the body loads and awkward postures imposed by package handling as well as driving-related, low-frequency vibrations. Wireless technology establishes communication links between the sensors and a data logger and between the data logger and a smart phone with positioning and text messaging capabilities. The data logger records the body weight, posture, and vibration data over time and transfers the data to a databank for archiving and further data analysis. During data recording, the data logger detects the data that either exceed the lifting index limit defined by the NIOSH Lifting Equation or the human whole-body vibration exposure limit defined by the ISO-2631-1 Human Exposure to Whole-Body Vibration standard. The data logger wirelessly transmits the data segment, which contains the marked out-of-limit data, to the smart phone in real-time. The smart phone then automatically dials a predefined number and sends an alert text message and alarm detailing the exposure/safety data, the GPS location of the occurrence, the date/time stamps, and a corresponding safety message. Additionally, the smart phone stores the sent text message for archiving and further data analysis.

Applications

  • Safety officers within the environmental, safety, and health departments of public and private entities
  • Industrial sectors such as construction, package delivery, manufacturing, healthcare, and trucking
  • Workers' well-being concern groups
  • Insurers and workers' compensation operations
  • Monitoring tasks associated with high rates of personal injury and workers' compensation payments linked to repeated or continual heavy lifting

Advantage

  • No comparable technology currently exists in the marketplace
  • Real-time notification, via alarm and smart-phone transmission, of injury-risk conditions that are likely to lead to musculoskeletal injury, as well as exposure to slip-, trip-, and fall-related traumatic injuries; both the worker and any monitoring station can be notified by the alarm
  • Portable; approximately the size of a mobile phone and uses comparable technology

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-168-2013

Focused Electrostatic Collection of Aerosol Particles for Chemical Analysis by Spectroscopic Techniques

This CDC-developed technology is an aerosol preconcentration unit (APU) designed for use with spectroscopic detection techniques, including emission, Raman, or infrared spectroscopies. Most existing pulsed microplasma techniques, such as laser-induced breakdown, for aerosols rely mainly on filter-based collection and suffer from poor accuracy, precision, and detection limits and require long sample collection times. The APU is designed to address these drawbacks by pre-concentrating the aerosol particles on a tip of a microelectrode (a few hundreds of micrometers in diameter) to allow near-real time measurements with superior accuracy and precision. The APU is designed to be small, low-pressure drop unit for its use in a battery-operated, hand-portable instrumentation.

The design significantly improves accuracy and precision of measurements relative to existing methods. The APU can be integrated with a microplasma source (such as a laser-induced plasma) and the optical spectrometer to obtain elemental composition of aerosol particles. The unique features of this invention allow: i) semi-continuous or near-real-time measurement of elemental composition of aerosol particles, ii) measurement with high accuracy, precision, and repeatability, iii) collection of particles using electrostatic principles, iv) higher flow rates with smaller pumps because of a very low pressure drop, v) reliable calibration of the system, vi) easy miniaturization for portable instruments, and vii) lower detection limits, as needed, by increasing the particle collection time and/or sampling flow rate.

Applications

  • Personal exposure measurements of metals
  • Air pollution studies
  • Elemental quantification in near real-time
  • Hazardous materials exposure determinations and identification
  • Biodefense, chemical-defense applications
  • Environmental and occupational epidemiology
  • Evaluation of engineering controls

Advantages

  • This APU allows accurate, near-real-time measurement of the elemental composition of aerosol particles in industrial and ambient atmospheres
  • Can be readily miniaturized and integrated into existing portable plasma, Raman, or IR spectroscopy instruments to allow on-site, semi-continuous measurement of aerosol particles
  • Provides lower detection limits compared to earlier technology, as needed, by increasing the particle collection time and/or sampling flow rate

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-205-2013

Methods for Near Real-time Chemical Analysis of Aerosols using Microwave-induced Plasma Spectroscopy

This CDC developed technology entails a novel method of near real-time elemental analysis of aerosols by corona assisted microwave induced plasma spectroscopy (CAMPS).

Analysis of elemental composition of aerosol particles holds significant implications for environmental and workplace pollution monitoring. Various plasma based analytical techniques, including laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) and spark-induced breakdown spectroscopy (SIBS), have been successfully used for multi-elemental analyses in solids, liquids, and gases, including aerosols. However, the characterization of fine and ultrafine aerosols using these techniques is particularly challenging due to small plasma volume, miniscule sample mass, and inferior sampling statistics, often leading to poor detection limits and precision.

This technology utilizes a microwave plasma-based detection system for aerosol analysis that features increased microplasma lifetime, repeatability, and stability over currently-available pulsed microplasma-based methods. This system produces microplasma lifetimes in the range of 5 to 50 milliseconds, a duration that is orders of magnitude larger than lifetimes for laser-induced or spark plasmas, as well as larger plasma volumes, which together are expected to provide improved detection limits over currently-available techniques.

Applications

  • Elemental quantification of aerosols in near real-time
  • Air pollution studies, Particulate Matter monitoring
  • Hazardous materials exposure determinations and identification
  • Biodefense, chemical-defense, homeland-security applications
  • Environmental and occupational epidemiology
  • Evaluation of engineering controls

Advantages

  • Makes it possible to conduct accurate, near-real-time measurement of the elemental composition of aerosols in industrial and ambient atmospheres
  • Corona field stabilizes the microwave plasma and results in repeatable plasma formation
  • Larger size of CAMPS plasma provides sufficient plasma volume which can lead to complete ablation of deposited aerosol in the tip of the electrode
  • Longer duration of CAMPS plasma (~10-50 ms) allows longer integration time which results in signal enhancement

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-163-2013

Detection Systems

Lead Detection Wipes for Potentially Contaminated Surfaces

This CDC-developed invention relates to a method for the detection of lead on surfaces (such as, for example, skin, floors, walls, windows sills) using a ‘handwipe’ system and a chemical test effecting a characteristic color change if contaminating lead is present. This invention is especially useful in detecting the presence of lead on skin and assessing the effectiveness of hand washing in removal of lead from the skin of exposed individuals. Further, this invention is useful in field evaluation for the presence of lead, exposure of individuals to lead, and the effectiveness of its subsequent removal in the workplace, home, school, and similar environments.

Applications

  • Suitable for lead-testing surfaces such as floors, walls, windowsills and human skin
  • Evaluation of lead-removal effectiveness from surfaces in homes, hospitals, workplaces and schools
  • Confirming hand/skin/shoe/clothing-washing effectiveness of lead removal for military, target range personnel

Advantage

  • Simple color-change readout indicates the presence of lead on a surface
  • Rapid test; lead concentration can be inferred by degree of color shift
  • Safe for use on skin

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-336-2013

Warning System for Mobile Machinery Hazardous Zones

This invention relates to a warning system designed to protect individuals working near hazardous machinery. The system consists of a proximity-warning transmitter mounted to hazardous machinery and a receiver, worn by a worker, capable of detecting the transmitter signal. This worker-safety system can incorporate visual alerts and audible alerts. It also allows automatic shutdown of machinery upon receiver activation and may be particularly useful in the mining industry.

Applications

  • Auxiliary safety equipment for heavy machinery
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Mining worker safety

Advantage

  • Easy transmitter installation
  • Signal can be adjusted for an audio or visual "warning zone alert" and a proximal "imminent danger zone alert"

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-239-2013

Local Positioning System for Position-Time-Condition Correlation, Data-logging and Analysis

This CDC-developed technology describes an automated system for monitoring worker hazard exposures by recording data about where and when hazards occur in a workplace or other environment. This allows the hazards to be avoided and harmful exposures and risks reduced. This field-tested technology consists of an integrated, hand-held electronics instrument and software system that will precisely correlate multiple exposure levels with position coordinates of the user and features real-time data acquisition.

Workers in many outdoor occupations move about frequently during a typical day of work. Certain workers, such as agricultural and construction workers, are particularly mobile. This exposure monitoring system combines geographical location with real-time sensors and outputs the information to a user-friendly interface. By linking worker location throughout the workday to exposure levels from real-time monitors, Local Positioning System (LPS) units (with integrated software processing of data) identify and document where to direct hazard exposure analysis and control efforts. Post-processing of LPS data enables researchers, regulatory inspectors, and industry safety and health personnel to map exposure intensity and location, reveal hot spots to identify sources, and provide exposure intensity distributions to increase workplace safety.

Applications

  • Collection, analysis and display of mutual, real-time conditional and 3-dimensional position data
  • Outdoor occupational exposure assessment with various real-time sensors/monitors (e.g., HAZMAT crews, safety inspection, etc.)
  • Solid state "bread crumbs" allowing a person or machine to retrace their path
  • Tracking of objects, animals or people, including sensing of their internal condition or environmental conditions
  • Environmental pollution source-point monitoring and investigation

Advantages

  • Correlates real-time position and real-time condition data for multiple commercial/industrial applications
  • An add-on capability for any sensor(s) when measurement of a location is also useful
  • System is highly customizable and can be easily adapted for additional monitoring of noise, dust, gases, and vapor, heat stress, etc. exposures
  • Automated system provides greater efficiency and greater feedback than video monitoring systems
  • An integrated alarm will alert users to potential hazards

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-144-2013

Fishing

Cable-line Safety System: Electro/hydraulic Emergency Stop Device for a Winch, Drum or Capstan

This CDC-developed invention entails a system of electrical and hydraulic circuits used to stop a rotating winch in an emergency. Amongst other locations, one stop switch can be positioned on a capstan winch horn. This location makes it available to a victim entangled in rope being retrieved on a gypsy drum. As designed, the stop circuit could be used with an electrically, hydraulically or pneumatically operated winch. A variant of this safety system has been successfully tested on a purse seining fishing vessel in Alaskan waters.

Applications

  • Retrofitting existing winches for additional safety and adherence to possible future regulations
  • Specifically designed and tested for the marine/fishing industries
  • Applications in mining, construction, forestry, and/or off-road automotive industries
  • Workers' well-being concern groups
  • Insurers of fishing vessels; also mining, construction and forestry operations
  • Manufacturers of cable reel trailers and wire-drawing machinery

Advantage

  • Complies with numerous international safety regulations requiring winches, drums and capstans to have a master on/off switch in easy reach for worker safety
  • Can be packaged as a ‘retrofit kit’ for integration with current commercial winch/drum usage

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-355-2013

Emergency Maritime Battery Charger

Boats and other watercrafts have emergency lifesaving equipment like strobe lamps to help rescuers locate individuals overboard in the event of a disaster. The battery life of the equipment is limited, so the amount of time rescuers have to find the victims is also limited. An emergency battery charger that can power emergency equipment is needed to remove this limitation.

Investigators at NIOSH have developed a battery that is powered by wave action in the water. Using a derivation of Faraday's Law, the principles of Lentz's Law were used to induce a current in a wire coil and manipulated to charge emergency batteries. This technology offers a back-up charger for equipment on boats and watercrafts.

Applications

  • Battery charger that can be used on personal or commercial boats.
  • Maritime battery charger that can be used for specialized rescue vessels.

Advantage

  • Charging system is configured to be powered by wave action.
  • Powering mechanism allows the maritime battery charger to be used in boats, life rafts, and personal flotation devices.
  • Maritime charger can be used to charge radios, lamps, and back up batteries for emergency systems.

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-567-2013

Swing-Away Winch Cathhead Guard

Shrimp boat operators use two trawl retrieval mechanisms mounted on the same winch frame. The main spools are used in the first operation; the shrimpers stand within inches of rotating cathead drums and guide incoming wire rope onto the main spools. Second, lazy lines are wrapped multiple times around each of the two spinning catheads (horizontal beams that raise and secure the anchor). Lastly, the guarding ends are pulled by the operators to cinch the rope to the rotating spool aiding trawl retrieval, but poses a hazard for operators to get entangled in the spinning cathead spools.

Researchers at NIOSH have developed guarding devices to protect shrimp boat winch operators from being entangled in the continuously spinning cathead spools. The mechanical guards feature a swinging functionality covering the catheads after the main trawl operations, allowing access to the normal operation of the catheads.

Applications

  • Protective guards used to protect shrimp boat operators from being entangled in cathead spools.
  • Cathead guards used to protect operators in the mining, oil, and gas industries where cathead winch spools are used.
  • Guards can be used in boating industry to protect operators of anchor windlasses.

Advantages

  • Swing-away mechanism of cathead guard protects operators from becoming entangled in spinning cathead spools.
  • Designed specifically to address safety issues with industry winch protocols.

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-568-2013

Mechanical Devices

Extension-Ladder Safety: Multimodal-feedback Indicator for Improved Ladder Positioning Safety and Efficiency

​Improper positioning of an extension ladder frequently results in "ladder slide-outs," which are the most common cause of ladder-fall scenarios. This invention relates to an extension ladder positioning indicator which is easily installed in a ladder rung; provides multiple cues (visual, sound, and vibration) for rapidly identifying and positioning correct ladder inclination.

CDC-NIOSH researchers found that this technology improved accuracy and efficiency of ladder positioning for both "experienced" and "novice" ladder users, as compared to the "no instruction" method and the standard anthropometric method, and that it was also significantly faster than the bubble indicator method. When properly implemented, this effective and easy to use ladder positioning indicator will reduce the risk of extension ladder slipping and tipping and, ultimately, will reduce the number of fall incidents and injuries – benefiting construction workers, employers, contractors and workplace insurers.

Applications

  • Retrofitting existing ladders to provide automated, multisensory feedback for improved compliance with OSHA and ANSI ladder-angle safety guidelines
  • Ladder manufacturing companies
  • Construction contractors, retailers and insurers
  • Training tool to aid worker safety education and adherence

Advantage

  • Direct, multimodal user feedback reduces the time for accurate, safe ladder positioning compared to bubble-level indicator, anthropometric and sight- based ladder-positioning methods
  • Visual, auditory and tactile feedback provide increased efficient-setup and safety
  • Technology can be incorporated as an attachable, device which may be affixed to a ladder or integrated as an app for a mobile/tablet device
  • Automated feedback ensures ladders are angled to OSHA and ANSI safety specifications

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-141-2013

Cylindrical Handle Dynamometer for Improved Grip-Strength Measurement

CDC researchers have developed an improved dynamometer device and method for measuring maximum hand grip force or grip-strength. Human test subjects were used in conducting experiments to evaluate the handle and to assess the measurement method. In contrast to the currently used "Jamar handle" grip strength dynamometer devices, the cylindrical handle proved to be able to determine the overall grip strength for a subject, as well as show the grip force distribution around the circumference of the handle. The cylindrical dynamometer handle is accurate with less than 4% error, and it demonstrates that the measurement is independent of the loading position along the handle. For real-world applications, the device can be used to help diagnose the musculoskeletal disorders of the hand, monitor the recovery progress after hand surgery or injury, and collect grip strength data for tool and machine design.

Applications

  • Useful for engineering functional design and ergonomic considerations for developing new tools and machinery
  • Monitoring post-operative, post-stroke rehabilitation
  • Diagnosis of carpel tunnel syndrome, musculoskeletal disorders and hand-arm vibration syndrome
  • Training feedback for grip-strength focused athletes - climbing, gymnastics, rugby, martial arts, etc.

Advantage

Compared to currently used "Jamar" grip test devices:

  • Cylindrical handle shape more comparable with real-world/workplace machinery
  • Improved comfort
  • Cylindrical meter assesses the total grip force, together with the friction force and torque
  • Grip force distributed at the different parts of the hand can be measured with cylindrical meter - important information for the diagnosis of hand disorders

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-143-2013

Occupational Health: Wearable Kneel-Sit Support Device for Manual Labor and Heavy Industry Applications

This CDC-developed technology describes a novel ergonomic device that supports a portion of the worker's weight while kneeling, relieving the knee pressure and pain common to many manual labor occupations. Unfortunately, many of the devices that have been used in the past to relieve pressure on the knees are bulky, heavy, and of questionable durability.

This device relieves pressure from the knees while kneeling, is easily portable, is attachable to the body, and can be moved automatically by the user without the user having to pick up the device and manually move it to a new position. The device is nonflammable and durable, so that it can be used in heavy industry and on horizontally constrained and uneven surfaces, and is comfortable to use while kneeling, thereby improving worker productivity.

Applications

  • Knee pain, low-back pain alleviation and prevention
  • Improved workplace ergonomics
  • Osteoarthrosis concerns, geriatric medicine applications and for aging populations in the workforce
  • Occupations such as shipbuilding, welding, mining, plumbing, carpet and floor installation, construction, repair services, and auto body repair in which people must spend a considerable amount of time kneeling or squatting

Advantage

  • Comfortable; relieves pressure from the knees while kneeling, increasing on-the-job comfort and worker productivity
  • Device is extremely portable
  • Easily attaches to a user's lower leg; allows for unhindered movement and ambulation
  • Device automatically moves with the user; no manual readjustments or manipulations are required
  • Durable and nonflammable
  • Ideal for heavy industry applications; can be used on horizontally constrained and uneven surfaces

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-261-2013

Antibodies

Diisocyanate Specific Monoclonal Antibodies for Occupational and Environmental Monitoring of Polyurethane Production Exposure-related Asthma and Allergy and Clinical Diagnosis

CDC researchers have developed monoclonal antibodies useful as diagnostics for diisocyanate (dNCO) exposure and for toxicity characterization of specific dNCOs. Currently, dNCOs are used in the production of all polyurethane products and are the most commonly reported cause of occupational-induced asthma and also linked to allergic contact dermatitis. Presumptive diagnosis of dNCO asthma is presently dependent on criteria such as work history, report of work-related asthma-like symptoms and nonspecific airway reactivity to methacholine challenge.

This invention is a cost-effective, objective alternative for clinical assessment of occupational/environmental dNCO exposure in patient samples. These antibodies may also provide for passive-immunization and prevention of allergic contact dermatitis and/or asthma that can result from extended dermal exposure to dNCO contaminated surfaces and vapors. Further, the present technology allows for high-throughput testing of workplace dNCO air, fabric and working-surface contamination.

Applications

  • Occupational/environmental safety biomonitoring of polyurethane-worker/user exposure to diisocyanates(dNCOs)
  • Clinical diagnostic use
  • dNCO-induced allergy/asthma prevention by passive immunization

Advantage

  • Ready for use in high-throughput immuno-histochemistry biomarker detection assays and kits
  • Two sandwich ELISAs have been developed and validated using human samples
  • Monitoring is currently performed by elaborate analytical chemical assays; this technology is more rapid and cost effective for dNCO exposure/contamination assessment

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-189-2013

Monoclonal Antibodies for Detection of Stachybotrys chartarum Fungi

This invention provides monoclonal antibodies that can be used to rapidly and accurately test for the presence of Stachybotrys chartarum fungi. Certain fungi found in indoor environments, including homes and businesses, may cause adverse health effects in people and animals by causing infection or provoking allergic reactions. Sick building syndrome, an occupational condition in which workers are sickened by environmental toxins or pathogens, has been associated with the fungus S. chartarum. The antibodies disclosed may be used to identify and detect the presence of S. chartarum in a biological sample or a sample obtained from the environment. The antibodies may be part of kits to assess human exposure to this fungi and they may be useful for improving occupational health.

Applications

  • Clinical diagnosis of S. chartarum exposure
  • Detection of fungal antigens in biological samples or the environment
  • Occupational health and home safety

Advantages

  • Simple, rapid, and specific detection of S. chartarum pathogen
  • Easily adaptable for kit format
  • Less labor-intensive than spore counts or culturing
  • More sensitive than chromatographic detection of mycotoxins
  • Ensures objective output by directly quantifying spores rather than relying on genetically influenced molecular markers or sample extraction techniques

For more details and contact information, visit http://www.ott.nih.gov/technology/e-224-2013

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