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NIOSH eNews – July 2012

Volume 10 Number 3 July 2012


From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH
July eNews 2012

A NIOSH Nanotechnology Update

Nanotechnology allows for the manipulation of matter on a near-atomic scale to produce new structures, materials and devices. This technology, and the advanced sophisticated materials it creates, promises scientific advancement for many sectors such as medicine, consumer products, energy, materials and manufacturing. As with any new technology, the earliest and most extensive exposure to emerging and uncharacterized hazards is most likely to occur in the workplace, where these new materials and tools are first developed and used.

Stakeholders and policymakers widely agree that a critical question should be addressed to support the safe development of this revolutionary technology. The question is this:

Do nanomaterials pose health or safety risks to workers employed in their manufacture and industrial use?

In the last decade, the public and private sectors began to identify the strategic research necessary for engaging that question and incorporating prudent risk management and risk assessment into the rapid introduction of these advanced materials into commerce.

In 2004, NIOSH established its virtual Nanotechnology Research Center to focus and coordinate partnerships across NIOSH and with diverse outside partners. Since then many collaborations have formed, papers published, and recommendations made.

I am gratified that NIOSH’s multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers has taken a national leadership role in pursuing needed research, and in developing evidence-based recommendations for controlling occupational exposures to nanomaterials as we continue to investigate complex scientific questions that are vital for greater specificity.

In June, as our latest product in this regard, NIOSH issued a guidance document that provides recommendations for good practice for researchers using nano materials. The document General Safe Practices for Working with Engineered Nanomaterials in Research Laboratories raises awareness of the occupational safety and health practices necessary during the synthesis, characterization, and experimentation using engineered nanomaterials in a laboratory setting. The guidance document provides the best information currently available on engineering controls and safe work practices to be followed when working with engineered nanomaterials in research laboratories.

NIOSH also continues to actively participate in national and international conferences where they can partner with fellow scientists to learn about and share new findings and to continue to foster cutting-edge research collaborations. A notable opportunity will occur this summer, when NIOSH and the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering of the University at Albany, Albany, NY, sponsor a conference, Safe Nano Design: Molecule » Manufacturing » Market August 14–16. Participants at this workshop will have the opportunity to provide input into the safe commercialization of nano products resulting in the development of guidelines for the safe synthesis of nanoparticles and associated products, using a prevention-through-design approach.

NIOSH researchers also continue to publish a robust number of publications in peer reviewed journals in this topic area. Some notable recent findings and areas of research are described here.

  • Scientists are building on laboratory studies to date to investigate whether carbon nanotubes (CNTs) may pose a work-related cancer risk. In the meantime, as those studies continue, NIOSH is working with public and private sector partners to identify prudent risk management practices that insure responsible use of these materials. A peer-reviewed paper recently published by NIOSH researchers addresses five areas to help focus action to protect workers:
    • review of the current evidence on the carcinogenic potential of CNTs, based on laboratory studies
    • the role of physical and chemical properties related to cancer development
    • CNT doses associated with changes to or damages in genes in laboratory animals and human tissue specimens
    • workplace exposures to CNT
    • Specific risk management actions needed to protect workers.
  • Another new study links nanoparticle exposure to cellular responses associated with autoimmune risks. In laboratory studies, exposures to certain types of nanoparticles produced cellular changes that are associated with risks for disorders of the autoimmune system such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The accuracy of nanomaterial safety data sheets has also been an issue of concern to NIOSH researchers. A recent paper highlights the findings from an evaluation of the quality and completeness of information of nanomaterial safety data as it pertains to hazard identification, exposure controls, personal protective equipment, and toxicological information being communicated about the engineered nanomaterial. The study determined that the majority of the safety data sheets obtained in 2010–2011 provided insufficient data for communicating the potential hazards of engineered nanomaterials.
  • Despite several years of intensive investigations, scientists have not yet established a common model for understanding the way(s) in which nanoparticles may affect or damage cells. Such damages can be precursors of more lasting or more severe effects in the body. In a paper published in June NIOSH researchers scrutinize the “oxidative stress paradigm,” a widely accepted scientific model for understanding the processes that in general are associated with cellular damage, to better understand the processes that can occur from reactions to nanoparticles. The answer to this question will have important ramifications for the development of strategies for mitigation of potential adverse effects of nanoparticles.
  • Recent findings by NIOSH researchers have also found indications that improperly designed, maintained, or installed engineering controls may not be completely effective in controlling releases of nanomaterials into the workplace. Unprotected skin exposure to carbon nanofibers was noted in two instances and indicated the need for educating workers on the use of personal protective equipment.
  • The NIOSH nanotechnology field research team recently published a summary of emission data collected at four facilities, which volunteered to serve as test sites. The measurements indicated that specific tasks can release engineered nanomaterials into the workplace atmosphere and that traditional controls such as ventilation can be used to limit exposure. Much research is still needed to understand the impact of nanotechnology on health, and to determine appropriate exposure monitoring and control strategies.

Incorporating appropriate risk assessment and risk management into the development of nanotechnology is vital to the safe growth of this technology and to supporting U.S. leadership in the competitive global market. As we approach the second decade of NIOSH’s multidisciplinary research program, we already are witnessing advancements in the technology itself that demand new attention. One such area for pioneering health and safety research, the area of advanced nanomaterials, will be the subject of an upcoming NIOSH Science Blog.

More information on nanotechnology research at NIOSH is available at /niosh/topics/nanotech/. Please visit this page, refer to it for ongoing news about NIOSH’s research, and consider ways in which you might collaborate with us.

NIOSH Posts Alert on Hydraulic Fracturing

NIOSH and OSHA released a joint Hazard Alert on worker exposure to silica during hydraulic fracturing.

It’s Back, Better Than Ever: Healthier Workers Symposium

Registration is now open for the 2nd Healthier Federal Workers Symposium, September 18–21, in Washington, DC, sponsored by NIOSH and partners. Pre-symposium workshops will be held on September 18–19; the main symposium is September 20–21.

New Emergency Medical Services Resources

NIOSH has posted a Web page highlighting emergency medical service (EMS) worker safety and health. In addition to providing EMS safety and health resources and references, the Web page offers a data summary describing nonfatal injuries to EMS workers treated in emergency departments. This Web page evolved from a collaborative project between NIOSH and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Emergency Medical Services, focusing on occupational injuries to EMS workers. /niosh/topics/ems/

Total Worker Health™—Integrating Prevention and Safety in Workplaces

The National Prevention Council Action Plan, released on June 13, highlights NIOSH’s Total Worker Health™ as an innovative effort in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for integrating prevention and safety in U.S. workplaces. Learn about the opportunities that the National Prevention Council is creating to ensure the health, well-being, and resilience of the American people.

MMWR Features Study on Coal Dust Exposure and Lung Disease

The June 15 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Report featured an article that highlights surface coal miners’ risk of serious occupational lung diseases from exposure to coal mine dust, based on new findings from NIOSH’s Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program. The study was conducted by researchers from NIOSH’s Division of Respiratory Disease Studies. NIOSH’S leadership with diverse partners in the surveillance of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) is also highlighted in a recent series of articles by National Public Radio, the Center for Public Integrity, and the Charleston (WV) Gazette. The NPR coverage can be found at

NIH/NIOSH Study Cited in Diesel Classification Revision

On June 12, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that it is classifying diesel exhaust as carcinogenic to humans, revising an earlier classification as possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on scientific studies published since its last evaluation ( IARC’s report cited in particular a March 2012 study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and NIOSH study that associated heavy exposure to diesel exhaust with the risk of death from lung cancer in miners.

AIHA Honors the Late John Palassis

At its annual meeting in June, the American Industrial Hygiene Association announced the John Palassis Memorial Award (formerly the Outstanding Member Award) to honor the memory of the late John Palassis, who retired from NIOSH in 2010 after 33 years of service. John’s work at NIOSH produced significant impact in the field of industrial hygiene through worker training, outreach to small businesses, and the development of consistent and comprehensive safety and health program standards.

Call for Nominations: 2013 Safe-in-Sound Awards™

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2013 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards. ™ The awards are given by NIOSH in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association to recognize excellence in hearing loss prevention. The deadline for self-nominations is September 3. Additional information is available at

NIOSH Congratulates….

NIOSH Researchers Earn AIHA Recognition

Congratulations to NIOSH researchers who were recognized by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) for excellence in published peer-reviewed articles and posters:

  • The AIHA Respiratory Protection Committee awarded the John M. White Award for outstanding Respiratory Protection peer-reviewed paper published in 2011 to: “Evaluation of the Filtration Performance of NIOSH-Approved N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators by Photometric and Number-Based Test Methods,” Samy Rengasamy; Adam Miller; Benjamin C. Eimer, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 9:23-30 (2011).
  • The AIHA Aerosol Technology Committee has selected the work cited below for excellence in aerosol research applied to Industrial Hygiene during 2011. “Evaluation of Nano- and Submicron Particle Penetration through Ten Nonwoven Fabrics Using a Wind-Driven Approach,” Pengfei Gao, Peter Jaques, Ta-Chih Hsiao, Angie Sheperd, Benjamin Eimer, Mengshi Yang, Adam Miller, Bhupender Gupta, and Ronald Shaffer, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 8:13-22 (2011).
  • The Best Poster in the PPE Section went to Pengfei Gao, Tony Rozzi, and Peter Jaques for the poster “A Passive Method for Measuring Particle Penetration Through Protective Clothing Materials.”
  • The Best Poster of Aerosols Section went to Douglas E. Evans, Kenneth W. Fent and James Couch for the poster “Fine Particle Exposures During Vehicle Fire Suppression: Mobile Direct Reading Sampling.”

News from Our Partners

Heat-Illness Educational Materials for Georgia’s Migrant Farmworkers

A study entitled “Heat-Related Illness Among Migrant Farmworkers—Georgia, 2011” was conducted during the summer of 2011 in order to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of South Georgia farmworkers regarding heat-related illnesses. Water Bottles and Bandanas—educational materials created from the project—are printed in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole and distributed during this summer’s South Georgia Farmworker Health Project ( The materials demonstrate how to prevent heat illness and what to do when symptoms of heat illness appear.

New Mexico Programs Address Work-related Asthma in Schools

The New Mexico Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau’s Public Health Tracking System pulled together resources from the New Mexico Department of Health Asthma Program and the University of New Mexico’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for School programs to address indoor air quality concerns after receiving a call from an employee of an elementary school with work-related asthma. Several recommendations were made to the school in order to mitigate the possible sources of asthma-inducing contaminants. Follow-up will be conducted this fall to determine if the recommendations were implemented and were effective.

Florida Department of Health Redesigns Occupational Health Resources

The Occupational Health and Safety Program at the Florida Department of Health has collaborated with an in-house graphic artist to “brand” their reports and fact sheets. Branding involves utilizing a common color scheme, layout, and eye-catching graphics for all program outputs in order to make them more visually appealing to readers. An example of the new report format is available at or see the website at

OSHA Invites Nominations for Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) invites nominations for membership on the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee (WPAC). SHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 21 statutes. Nominations must be submitted by July 27. More information can be found at

OSHA to Hold Meeting of the Maritime Advisory Committee for OSH

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will hold a public meeting of the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health July 24–25 in Seattle ( Individuals may submit comments and requests to speak at through July 17.

Share Your Health Success Story Here

Do you have improved health through your commute? The Oregon Healthy Workforce Center asks you to share your story at

Respirator Use Toolkit for California Healthcare Administrators

The California Department of Health has developed a toolkit of resources to help California hospitals reinforce and strengthen their respiratory protection programs. The guide covers key requirements of the Cal/OSHA Respiratory Protection and Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standards, guidance on developing and evaluating a respiratory protection program, and information on the selection and use of respirators. While designed for California, the tools provide a useful resource for others as well. These tools and resources are now available through links within the electronic version of the guide itself, located at .

New Health Hazard Evaluation Report Now Available

HHE logo Chemotherapy Drug Exposures at an Oncology Clinic

HHE Program investigators evaluated reports of work-related health symptoms at an oncology clinic, including upper respiratory irritation, headache, fainting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Investigators found platinum-containing chemotherapy drugs in most of the surface wipe samples, but not in hand wipe samples collected during the evaluation. Cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide were also found in some surface wipe samples. Investigators recommended that managers

  • instruct employees and cleaning staff to clean work surfaces after chemotherapy drugs are used and at the end of each day.
  • observe employee and patient activities in the checkout area to find where cross-contamination of chemotherapy drugs may occur.

A link to this report can be found at /niosh/hhe/whats_new.html.

New Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program Reports Now Available

Gardener Dies When He Falls Out of a Tree While Trimming

Factors that contributed to the death of the gardener include not wearing any fall protection as well as a lack of training and certification on how to safely trim trees.

Mechanic Dies When He is Crushed by the Hydraulic Arm of a Recyclable Refuse Collection Truck

Factors that contributed to the death of the mechanic include failure to stay out of the pinch points of energized mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic devices, and a lack of specific training on equipment receiving maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.

Chemist Dies from Burns Caused by Mixing Chemicals

Factors that contributed to the death of the chemist include a lack of specific safety and training programs for the handling, storage, and use of hazardous chemicals.

Construction Laborer Dies after Being Crushed under a Concrete Patio Foundation

Factors that contributed to the death of the laborer include the lack of a protective system, failure to identify existing or potential hazards, and lack of understanding about the risk of collapse of unsupported structures before entering an excavation. /niosh/face/stateface/ca/09CA002.html

Tree Trimmer is Electrocuted When a Tree Branch Falls onto Energized Electric Power Lines

Factors that contributed to the death of the tree trimmer include failure to notify an electric utility company when trimming a tree within 10 feet of energized high-voltage lines, as well as a lack of training and certification in line-clearance tree trimming operations by qualified instructors. /niosh/face/stateface/ca/11CA003.html

Day Laborer Dies When He Falls Off a Scaffold

Factors that contributed to the death of the laborer include the failure to use any type of fall protection as well as the lack of a scaffold with guardrails and a secured walk board. /niosh/face/stateface/ca/11CA002.html

Plumber Dies When He Falls from the Second Floor of a Building after Stepping on Unsupported Plywood Formwork

Factors that contributed to the death of the plumber include failure in ensuring that workers not walk on plywood sheets while vertical shoring was being removed, and the lack of a system that clearly distinguished the vertical shoring parts that were to be removed from those that were to remain in place.

Orchard Caretaker Dies When He is Pulled into a Wood Chipper

Factors that contributed to the death of the caretaker include failure to ensure that wood chippers are equipped with safety devices to prevent injury from moving chipper blades, a lack of training on safe operating practices, and failure to ensure that wood chippers are never operated alone. /niosh/face/stateface/ca/10CA011.html

Construction Worker Dies When a Fully Extended Scissor Lift Falls Over

Factors that contributed to the death of the construction worker include failure to ensure that employees use scissor lifts of appropriate size and capacity for the job, as well as the failure to ensure that employees are specifically trained on the appropriate load capacity and materials handling on scissor lifts.

New Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports Available

Fire Fighter-Paramedic Suffers On-Duty Cardiac Death at Fire Station

The 35-year-old male career fire fighter-paramedic had responded to 10 emergency calls while on duty. The death certificate and autopsy listed “atherosclerotic coronary artery disease” as the cause of death. Whether the physical stress of emergency response was sufficient to trigger his sudden cardiac death remains unclear. /niosh/fire/reports/face201202.html

Engineer Dies from Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

A 50-year-old male volunteer fire fighter engineer participated in a 40-hour technical rescue and collapse training program in hot, humid weather. The training was conducted in 8-hour shifts over 3 consecutive weekends. Six days after the last training session, the engineer was hospitalized for respiratory distress. NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of the training in elevated environmental temperatures may have contributed to the respiratory decline that preceded his heart attack and death. /niosh/fire/reports/face201129.html

WTC Health Program Update

WTC Health Program Newsletter Now Available

The first World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program newsletter was published on July 1 to mark the one-year anniversary since the program began. The newsletter and a video statement from Dr. John Howard, the Administrator of the WTC Health Program, can be found at

r2p Corner

r2p logo

Partnering to Improve Fire Apparatus and PPE

NIOSH is pleased to announce that 11 new partnership agreements have been signed to use the NIOSH-developed anthropometric database of U.S. firefighters to develop fire apparatus and personal protective equipment to reduce firefighter ground-related fatal and nonfatal injuries. The agreements were signed with the following partners: Globe Manufacturing, Honeywell, H.O. Bostrom Inc., Indiana Mills and Manufacturing Inc., International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services, Lion Apparel, Inc., National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, Mine Safety and Appliances Company, OSHKOSH Corporation, Seats Incorporated, and E-ONE Inc. This collaborative effort with private and industry partners is key to ensuring a successful transition of research into practice. For more information, contact Hongwei Hsiao at (304) 285-5910 or

What’s new on the NIOSH Science Blog?

Safety and Health in the Theater: Keeping Tragedy out of the Comedies…and Musicals…and Dramas

First Father’s Day Tied to the Workplace

Federal Register Notices

NIOSH published on June 25 a Federal Register notice of a proposed rulemaking for the performance requirements of the remaining service-life indicators on open-circuit self-contained breathing apparatus [Federal Register Volume 77, Number 122 (Monday, June 25, 2012)]. Comments will be accepted until July 25 at

A full listing of NIOSH official publications for rules, proposed rules, and notices for 2011, go to /niosh/fedreg.html.

New Communication Products

Flavoring-Related Lung Disease: Information for Healthcare Providers
Workers who breathe flavoring chemicals containing diacetyl, such as butter flavoring, may be at risk of severe obstructive lung disease. /niosh/docs/2012-148/

Guidelines for Reporting Occupation and Industry on Death Certificates
This document is designed to help funeral directors complete the Decedent’s Usual Occupation and Kind of Business/Industry items on electronic and paper death certificates. /niosh/docs/2012-149/

NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings 2012
This document provides an update to the hazardous drug list found in the 2004 NIOSH Alert, Preventing Occupational Exposures to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings. This update adds 26 new or existing drugs that had new warnings from 2007 to 2009. /niosh/docs/2012-150/

From the Office of Mine Safety and Health Research

  • A New Leak Test Method for Enclosed Cab Filtration Systems
    A new test method has been developed by NIOSH and Clean Air Filter for quantifying the outside air leakage into environmental cab filtration systems. Mention of a company name does not constitute a NIOSH commercial endorsement.
  • National Survey of the Mining Population Part I: Employees and Part II: Mines
    NIOSH recently conducted the first comprehensive survey of the U.S. mining population in more than 20 years. The survey captured the current profile of the U.S. mining workforce. Part I: Employees  presents the employee-level data, and Part II: Mines  presents the mine-level data.

Call for Abstracts

16th International Society for Respiratory Protection Conference
Call for papers. Deadline for submission is August 1.

23rd Annual Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference
Call for proposals. Deadline for Breakout Session proposals is June 29; deadline for Art & Science Presentation proposals and Activity Session proposals is September 21; proposals for Peer Presentations are due August 24 through February 15.

Work, Stress and Health 2013: Protecting and Promoting Total Worker Health™
Call for proposals; send submissions by October 1.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

7th Joint European/United States Conference on Occupational Safety & Health
July 11–13, Brussels, Belgium

2012 National Conference on Health Statistics
August 6–8. Washington, DC

6th Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media
August 7–9, 2012, Atlanta, GA

Safe Nano Design Workshop
August 14–16, Albany, NY

2nd Healthier Federal Workers Symposium
September 18–21, in Washington, DC.

International Society for Respiratory Protection (ISRP)
September 23–27, Boston, MA

American Public Health Association
October 27–31, 2012, San Francisco, CA

Isocyanates and Health: Past, Present and Future
November 1–2, Bethesda, MD

23nd Annual Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference
March 18–22, 2013, Hilton Head, South Carolina

A comprehensive list of upcoming conferences can be found at /niosh/exhibits.html.

Did you know?

Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries. Get information from NIOSH on how to Protect Yourself from Heat Stress

Please send your comments and suggestions to us at

This newsletter is published monthly via email by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to inform members of the public health community as well as interested members of the general public of Institute related news, new publications, and updates on existing programs and initiatives.