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From 1981 to 1983, NIOSH conducted the National Occupational Exposure Survey (NOES). The NOES was an inventory of commercial chemical products in use at representative sample of fixed-site facilities during the years 1981-1983. The objectives of the survey were to:

1) develop estimates of the number of U.S. workers potentially exposed to chemical, physical, and biological agents in selected industrial sectors
2) obtain data describing the nature and extent of these potential exposures and the degree to which businesses have implemented programs to reduce health problems

Learn more about NOES, how to access the data, data limitations, and more recent NIOSH hazard surveillance efforts.

About NOES

From 1981-1983, NIOSH visited 4,490 randomly selected fixed-site worksites in 522 different industries[1]  that employed about 1,800,000 workers in 377 occupational categories[2]. Participation in the NOES was generally voluntary, although NIOSH used its regulatory authority to enter some of the facilities (12 total) in cases where a substitute facility could not be obtained. Walkthrough surveys were done to observe potential occupational exposures to:

  • chemical
  • physical
  • biological agents

Most of the NIOSH effort was directed at identifying potential chemical exposures related to the use of commercial chemical products. Aside from measurement of noise levels, no sampling or measurement of actual worker exposures in the workplaces was done.  Over 100,000 unique tradename commercial products were observed to be in use during the on-site visits. NIOSH subsequently contacted the manufacturers of the tradename commercial products to identify 13,000 chemical ingredients in those products as potential occupational exposures.

Field guidelines, sampling methodology, and an analysis of management interview responses have been published[3],[4],[5]. However, estimates of the numbers of employees potentially exposed and conditions of exposure remain unpublished. The survey has not been repeated; At this time, there are no plans for another NIOSH survey like NOES due to feasibility and resource constraints.

Over the years, NOES data have been quoted in numerous NIOSH documents, journal articles, and major databases such as the Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) and the Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB).

[1] OMB [1972]. Standard industrial classification manual 1972. Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, Statistical Policy Division.
[2] Census [1980]. Bureau of the Census alphabetical index to industries and occupations, 1980. Washington, DC  : U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.
[3] NIOSH [1988]. National occupational exposure survey field guidelines. Vol. I. Seta JA, Sundin DS, Pedersen DH, eds. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 88-106.
[4]NIOSH [1989a]. National occupational exposure survey analysis of management interview responses. Vol. III. Pedersen DH, Sieber WK, eds. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 89-103.
[5] NIOSH [1989b]. National occupational exposure survey sampling methodology. Vol. II. Sieber WK, ed. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 89-102.

Access the Data

A subset of the NOES database is available in archived data files accessible at

The archived HTML files were created by NIOSH in 2002 from the NOES field data, and contain estimates of the numbers of employees potentially exposed to agents observed during the NOES by industry and occupation.  The archived files also contain the number of agents observed by industry, agents rank ordered by the estimated number of employees potentially exposed, and estimated percentages of controlled and uncontrolled potential exposures by specific agent and industry. The raw field data including the conditions of potential exposure were not converted to a data format suitable for archiving, and are no longer available.

Please read the data limitations below, before accessing the data.

NOES Data Limitations

The NOES was an inventory of commercial chemical products in use at representative sample of fixed-site facilities during the years 1981-1983. The NOES data should NOT be used for assessing current worker exposures, or the number of workers potentially exposed currently, because the data are no longer representative.

  • There have been extensive changes in U.S. industries since the early 1980’s, including:
    1. the number of workers employed among the industrial sectors (generally significantly fewer workers are employed in chemical-intensive industries)
    2. the commercial chemical products in use
    3. manufacturing process changes, including automation which reduces number of workers
    4. the specific formulations of commercial chemical products (use of the most toxic substances has generally been reduced due to regulation and consumer awareness)
  • NOES did not define “exposures” using widely-accepted definitions in the field of industrial hygiene.  Instead, every chemical ingredient identified in each commercial chemical product in use was, regardless of concentration, was considered to be an “exposure.”  “Exposure” in this context means: identified as present, in any quantity, in the workplace without regard to actual contact with the worker via inhalation, ingestion or absorption.
  • NOES did not consider the degree of hazard, concentration, frequency, or duration of contact in identifying an exposure. Hazardous chemical exposures resulting from process emissions, chemical reaction byproducts, and facility maintenance activities, such as metal fumes, carbon monoxide, asbestos fibers in air, or crystalline silica dust in air, were excluded from the NOES. Potential synergistic or additive effects of the multiple exposures in a single establishment were not considered.
  • The following industries or establishments were excluded from the NOES:
    • agricultural production
    • any mining activity except oil and gas extraction
    • railroad transportation
    • private households
    • finance institutions
    • all Federal, State, and municipal government facilities
    • all establishments with fewer than 8 employees

Recent NIOSH Hazard Surveillance Efforts

Recent hazard surveillance efforts have focused on healthcare workers and long-haul truck drivers.

Health and Safety Practices of Healthcare Workers

In 2011, NIOSH conducted the Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers. This anonymous, internet-based survey was conducted to better understand the extent to which healthcare workers may be exposed to hazardous chemicals, current exposure control practices for reducing potential exposures, and barriers to using exposure controls. The study population primarily included members of 21 professional practice organizations representing a diverse group of professional, technical and service occupations who use or come in contact with hazardous chemicals. These included antineoplastic drugs, aerosolized medications, anesthetic gases, chemical sterilants, high level disinfectants and surgical smoke.

Long-haul Truck Drivers

In 2011, drivers of heavy and tractor-trailer trucks accounted for 56% of all production and nonsupervisory employees in the truck transportation industry.  There are limited data for illness and injury in long-haul truck drivers, which prompted the National Survey of Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury. Interviewers collected data during 2010 from 1,670 long-haul truck drivers at 32 truck stops across the 48 contiguous United States that were used to compute prevalence estimates for self-reported health conditions and risk factors. The study found obesity and smoking were twice as common in truck drivers compared to other US workers.  Sixty-one percent of long-haul drivers reported having two or more of the following risk factors: 

  • hypertension
  • obesity
  • smoking
  • high cholesterol
  • no physical activity
  • six or fewer hours of sleep per 24-hour period


  • Ballard TJ, Burnett CA, Sieber WK, Halperin WE: Breast Cancer Screening Among Employed American Women.  International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.
  • Behrens VJ, Brackbill RM. Worker awareness of exposure: industries and occupations with low awareness. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 1993; 23(5):695-701.
  • Boden LI, Cabral H. Company characteristics and workplace medical testing. American Journal of Public Health 1995; 85(8):1070-1075.
  • Boiano JM, Hull RD. .Development of a National Occupational Exposure Survey and Database associated with NIOSH hazard surveillance initiatives. Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 2001; Feb; 16(2):128-34.
  • Burkhart G, Schulte P, Robinson C, Sieber WK, Vossenas P, Ringen K: Job Tasks, Potential Exposures, and Health Risks of Laborers Employed In The Construction Industry.  American Journal of Industrial Medicine 1993; 24(4):413-426.
  • Davis RR, Sieber WK. Trends in hearing protector usage in American manufacturing from 1972 to 1989. American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal 1998; 59:715-722.
  • de la Hoz R, Young R, and Pedersen D. Exposure to potential occupational asthmogens: Data from the National Occupational Exposure Survey. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 31:195-201.
  • Frazier T. NIOSH occupational health and hazard surveillance systems. Journal of Toxicology – Clinical Toxicology 1983; 21:201-209.
  • Froines J, Wegman D, Eisen E. VI. Hazard surveillance in occupational disease. American Journal of Public Health 1989; 79(Suppl):26-31.
  • Greife A, Halperin W, Groce D, O’Brien D, Pedersen D, Myers JR, and Jenkins L. Hazard surveillance: Its role in primary prevention of occupational disease and injury. Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 1995; 10(9):737-742.
  • Greife A, Young R, Carroll M, Sieber WK, Pedersen D, Sundin D, Seta J. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health general industry occupational exposure databases: Their structure, capabilities, and limitations. Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 1995; 10(4):264-269.
  • Kauppinen T, Toikkanen J, Pedersen D, Young R, Ahrens W, Boffetta P, Hansen J, Kromhout H, Blasco JM, Mirabelli D, de la Orden-Rivera V, Pannett B, Plato N, Savela A, Vincent R, Kogevinas M. Occupational exposure to carcinogens in the European Union. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2000; 57:10-18.
  • Morata TC, Dunn DE, Sieber WK. Occupational exposure to noise and ototoxic organic solvents. Archives of Environmental Health 1994; 49(5):359-364.
  • Murthy LI. Computer readable data from NIOSH. Seminars in Dermatology 1989; 8(2):70-71.
  • Murthy LI. Introduction. In: LaDou J, ed. Occupational health and safety, 2nd ed. Itasca, IL: National Safety Council, 1994. pp. 3-16.
  • Murthy LI. Growth of occupational health. In: Balge MZ, Krieger GR, eds. Occupational health and safety, 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: National Safety Council, 2000. pp. 3-24.
  • Pedersen DH. Industrial responses to constrained OSHA regulation. American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal 2000; 61(3):381-387.
  • Pedersen DH, Young RO, and Rose VE. Populations at risk. In: Bingham E, Cohrssen B, Powell C, eds. Patty’s toxicology, 5th ed, Vol. VIII. New York, NY: John Wiley, Inc., 2001. pp. 699-707.
  • Pedersen DH, Venable HL, Sieber WK:  An Examination of Occupational Medicine Practices.  Journal of Occupational Medicine 1990; 32(10):  1037-1041.
  • Pedersen DH, Sieber WK. Some trends in worker access to health care in the United States (1974-1983). American Journal of Industrial Medicine 1989; 15:151-165.
  • Ratcliffe JM, Halperin WE, Frazier TM, Sundin DS, Delaney L, Hornung RW. The prevalence of screening in industry: report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health National Occupational Hazard Survey. J Occup Med 1986; 28(10):906-12.
  • Robinson CF, Petersen M, Sieber WK, Palu S, Halperin WE. Mortalitiy of carpenters’ union members employed in the U.S. construction of wood products industries, 1987-1990. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 1996; 30:674-694.
  • Robinson C, Venable H, Stern F, Burnett C, Sieber K, Sestito J,Frazier T,  Fingerhut M:  Occupational Exposures and the Mortality Patterns of U.S. Construction Trades Workers 1984-1986: Filling in the Gaps.  Revue d’Epidemiologie et de Sante Publique 1992; 40:S42.
  • Ruder A, Fine L, Sundin D [1990]. National estimates of occupational exposure to animal bladder tumorigens. Journal of Occupational Medicine 1990; 32(9):797-805.
  • Seligman PJ, Sieber WK, Pedersen DH, Sundin DS, and Frazier TM. Compliance with OSHA record-keeping requirements. American Journal of Public Health 1988; 78(8):1218-1219.
  • Seta JA, Sundin DS. Trends of a decade – A perspective on occupational hazard surveillance, 1970-1983. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1985; 34(2):15-24.
  • Seta JA, Sundin DS. Semiconductor industry – A hazard surveillance perspective. In: Hazard assessment and control technology in semiconductor manufacturing. Chelsea, Michigan: Lewis Publishers, 1989. pp. 37-46.
  • Seta JA, Young RO, Pedersen DH, Bernstein IL, Bernstein DI. The United States National Occupational Exposure Survey (NOES) data base. In: Bernstein IL, Chan-Yeung M, Malo JL, Bernstein DI, eds. Asthma in the workplace, 2nd ed. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker, Inc.,1999. pp. 721-728.
  • Sieber WK, Seta JA, Young RO. A job exposure matrix for identification of potential exposures in occupational settings. In: Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Epidemiology in Occupational Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, September 23-25, 1992. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-112, pp. 351-356.
  • Sieber WK Jr, Sundin DS, Frazier TM, Robinson CF.  Development, use, and availability of a job exposure matrix based on national occupational hazard survey data. Am J Ind Med 1991; 20(2):163-74.
  • Sieber WK:  Sampling Strategy for an Occupational Exposure Survey.  Proceedings of the Section on Survey Research Methods, American Statistical Association, Las Vegas, NV, 1985.
  • Sundin DS, Frazier TM. VII. Hazard surveillance at NIOSH. American Journal of Public Health 1989; 79(Suppl):32-37.
  • Sundin DS, Pedersen DH, and Frazier TM. Occupational hazard and health surveillance. American Journal of Public Health 1986; 76(9):1083-1084.
  • Valiante DJ, Richards TB, Kinsley KB. Silicosis surveillance in New Jersey: Targeting workplaces using occupational disease and exposure surveillance data. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 1992; 21(4):517-526.