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workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

9277248 - Inhalation Facility Support

Start Date: 10/1/1999
End Date: 9/30/2013

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Teh-Hsun Chen
Phone: 304-285-6148
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: HELD
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goal Addressed

Attributed to Manufacturing


Project Description

Short Summary

This project provides the resources for the HELD Inhalation Facility. Inhalation exposures are conducted to simulate and mimic workplace respiratory environmental conditions, thus, addressing Respiratory Disease issues in construction, manufacturing, and the nanotechnology sectors. The effects of inhalation exposures on laboratory animals are analyzed by NIOSH scientists in a research program investigating the causes and mechanism(s) of respiratory occupational diseases. The effects of gas and particulate toxins are explored along with their dose-response and synergistic relationships. This dose-response, time course and mechanistic data will support risk assessment and development of prevention strategies by NIOSH, OSHA and EPA.


The Developmental Engineering Research Team (DERT) has a wide range of expertise in inhalation exposure system development and aerosol physics which can be marshaled to address various initiatives. Because of this research expertise, DERT is often sought by both internal and external partners (such as West Virginia University, University of Pittsburgh, Louisiana State University, DRDS, DART, TMBB and ASB) to provide data, advice and collaborative research concerning new and evolving issues of occupational health related to inhaled substances. These requests often involve the development of new generation systems to expose animals to aerosolized agents in question. This project will support such research and development efforts within DERT. Examples of inhalation exposure systems currently under development or proposed collaborative efforts include: welding fume, toluene diisocyanate (TDI), ozone, fine/ultrafine titanium dioxide (TiO2), artificial butter flavoring vapor, crystalline silica and carbon nanotube. These studies should provide valuable data which can be used for assessing potential adverse human health effects resulting from chemical exposures.

The unique experience of engineers and scientists in DERT permit large scale inhalation exposures to be conducted which are not feasible in many other research institutions. Exposure systems are built which simulate workplace environments. These systems contain electrical and mechanical hardware along with computer software. Environmental variables, such as toxic gas or particulate level, temperature, humidity and respiratory gas levels, are closely monitored. These values are then fed into a feedback routine which alters system parameters, such as pressures, flows and switching valves, to keep environmental conditions in a closely defined and user-selectable range. Each system is unique and depends on the properties of the toxin being studied.

This project provides the inhalation facility with support and supplies used in animal inhalation exposure studies. Currently, the facility includes five animal exposure rooms, one setup room, and one storage room. Three contracted physical science technicians work full time in the facility along with the government employees listed above. Inhalation exposure systems are generally assembled and tested in the setup room after which they are moved to an animal inhalation room where the experiments are performed. Exposed and control animals will be provided to investigators in HELD and external collaborators to study toxicological effects of inhalation of select aerosols and gasses. Supplies, equipment (ADP and non-ADP) are needed in order to construct, and repair exposure systems and characterize exposures. Funds will be necessary for safety clothing and equipment, cleaning supplies, and animal care facilities and supplies.


• Novel pulmonary diseases are associated with new industrial methods and technologies. This project provides the technical support and instrumentation needed to identify workplace toxins and provide information concerning disease processes using animal models.

• The results from this research provides some of the scientific evidence for recommended exposure limits, criteria documents, and other NIOSH publications intended to reduce workers' exposures and thus, reduce workers' morbidity and mortality in the workplace.

• Project success will be judged by successful exposures completed and publication of results.

• Impact will be evaluated by citations of these publications and use of results to develop prevention strategies and conduct risk assessment to support standards.

Mission Relevance

Workers are exposed to a myriad of respirable toxins in the workplace. Many scientific studies involve administering these toxins to laboratory animals to investigate their effects and extrapolating the results for risk assessment in humans. Since injection is simple and economical, it is often used as a route of exposure in animal models. Although this technique introduces the toxin to the animal, the route of exposure is different than that which exists in many workplaces (inhalation). This project will provide the resources to perform inhalation exposure studies on small laboratory animals.

This project primarily provides collaborative research in support of other research projects that require the development of aerosol/vapor generation systems, the physicochemical characterization of airborne toxicants, and the conduct of inhalation exposure to laboratory animals.

This project supports the following goals: 1) Construction Sector (50%) Goal 6 "Reduce welding fume exposures" Intermediate Goal 6.5 (09PPCONIG6.5), "Evaluate hazard and exposure assessment research gap associated with welding fume in construction" Research Goal 6.5.2 (E09PPCONAOG6.5.2) "Exposure characterization component" 2) Manufacturing Sector (50%) Goal 5, "Reduce the number of respiratory conditions and diseases due to exposures in the manufacturing sector"; and Goal 9, "Enhance the state of knowledge related to emerging risks (nanomaterials) to occupational safety and health in manufacturing" 3) Respiratory Disease Cross-Sector (100%) Goal 1 "Prevent and reduce work-related airway disease" Intermediate Goal 1.3 (09PPRDRADG1.3), "Prevent and reduce flavorings-induced obstructive lung diseases, including bronchiolitis obliterants" Activity/Output Goal 1.3.5 (09PPRDRADG1.3.5), "Conduct basic toxicology research, including inhalation toxicology studies, to better characterize the toxic potential and mechanisms of toxicity of diacetyl and other potentially toxic artificial flavorings"; Goal 2 (09PPRDRSG2): "Prevent and reduce work-related interstitial lung diseases." Intermediate Goal 2.2 (09PPRDRIG2.2): "prevent and reduce silica-induced respiratory diseases, with primary focus in this intermediate goal on silicosis." Activity/Output Goal (09PPRDRAOG2.2.6): "develop and validate approaches to early detection for silicosis such as new approaches to chest imaging and assessment of biomarkers associated with silica exposure and interstitial lung disease."; Intermediate Goal (09PPRDRIG2.3): "prevent and reduce "fiber"-induced respiratory diseases" and Activity/Output Goal (09PPRDRAOG2.3.5): "perform basic toxicologic research to elucidate the important determinants of toxicity for asbestos fibers and other elongated mineral particles and to improve the ability to predict the toxic potential of natural and man-made inorganic fibers." Goal 3 "Prevent and reduce work-related respiratory infections" Intermediate Goal 3.1 (09PPRDRIG3.1), "Develop improved approaches to detect and quantify exposures to airborne toxic infectious agents and settled infectious agents with the potential to cause respiratory infection" Activity/Output Goal 3.1.2 (09PPRDRAOG3.1.2), "Develop and validate novel sampling and analytical methods for assessing exposures to airborne infectious agents such as influenza virus" Goal 5 "Prevent respiratory and other diseases potentially resulting from occupational exposures to nanomaterials"; and Immediate Goal 5.1 (09PPRDRIG5.1), "Determine the potential respiratory toxicities to nanomaterials" Activity/Output Goal 5.1.1 (09PPRDRAOG5.1.1), "Perform basic in vitro and in vivo toxicology studies to evaluate for respiratory toxicity of nanoparticles and, if present, to characterize nanoparticle characteristics and mechanisms of action underlying toxic effects" 4) Nanotechnology (50%) Goal 1, "Determine if nanoparticles and nanomaterials pose risks for work-related injuries and illnesses" Intermediate Goals 2 (09PPNANIG2), 2.1 (09PPNANIG2.1), and (09PPNANIG2.4), "Toxicity and internal dose", "Key factors and mechanisms" and "Internal dose", respectively.