The need for continued occupational toxicology programs has been borne out through the existence of the large number of chemicals and modifying conditions found at the workplace without sufficient toxicological information to protect the workers from possible exposures to harmful materials. The current efforts of NIOSH in the field of occupational toxicology were outlined along with efforts which must be placed in occupational toxicology programs designed by industry, labor, and governmental institutions if the danger is to be effectively met. The elements of the NIOSH program included identification of occupational safety and health problems; evaluation of the problems and hazards to make clear their causes and detect areas which will inhibit preventive measures from succeeding; control of the problems through technology, protective equipment, changes in work practices and the installation of hazard detection devices; and the dissemination of information needed to make employers and employees aware of potential hazards and means by which they can be eliminated. Criteria used to select chemicals for intensive study included the size of the population at risk, the health consequences of exposure, production of the chemical in the United States, implications that controlling this substance will have for the overall industry (including the availability of substitute materials), structure/activity relationships of this chemical to others of a similar nature, and coordination of this program with other current investigations. The roles of industry, workers, and management in bringing safety into the workplace were briefly considered.
Barry L. Johnson, US. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Biomedical and Behavioral Science, Cincinnati, OH 45226
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