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NIOSH eNews – September 2012


Volume 10 Number 5 September 2012


From the Director’s Desk

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

A NIOSH Update on Industrial Hygiene Practices

Industrial hygienists rely on accurate sampling and analytical methods and devices. These are basic tools for detecting potentially dangerous gases and vapors in workplaces and for determining whether concentrations are at levels that could threaten workers’ health. This is so fundamental a need in safeguarding workers from harm that the Occupational Safety and Health Act tasked NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with developing and evaluating such methods. The two agencies jointly undertook this charge in 1974, and NIOSH followed with an updated protocol in 1995. I am pleased to note that a new resource is available that reflects NIOSH’s continued leadership in supporting this critical aspect of industrial hygiene practice.

document covers

NIOSH has released new guidance, Components for Evaluation of Direct-Reading Monitors for Gases and Vapors (/niosh/docs
), along with an associated addendum, Hazard Detection in First Responder Environments (/niosh/docs/2012-163/). These documents are part of the Direct-Reading Exposure Assessment Methods (DREAM) initiative on direct-reading methods and monitors (/niosh/topics/drm/), which NIOSH began in 2008 to advance the development and use of twenty-first century technologies to anticipate, recognize, evaluate, control, and confirm safe levels of occupational exposure to hazards in time-sensitive ways. The unique requirements and applications of direct-reading methods to support public and worker health in both routine occupational activities and emergency preparedness require improved laboratory and field test capabilities to ensure method or instrument performance and accurate interpretation of their results. A key goal of the DREAM initiative was to develop a guidance document on performance testing of direct-reading monitors for gases and vapors.

The Components document expands the historical NIOSH methods for monitor development and evaluation testing released in 1995 to include

  • Physical, operational, and performance characteristics for direct-reading monitors.
  • Experiments to evaluate such parameters as response time, calibration, stability, interferences, and reliability of direct-reading monitors.
  • A quick-access summary table on recommended tests.
  • Technical appendices on details for the calculation of bias, precision and accuracy, and monitor uncertainty.
  • Newly developed approximations for estimating accuracy.
  • Programs for the statistical methods written in “R,” a statistical program that can be downloaded for free.

The document is intended for laboratory users, consensus standard-setting bodies, and manufacturers of direct-reading instrumentation. New monitoring technologies beyond those described in the Components document are being developed every day, and the principles of evaluation should be very similar for any emerging methods intended for use in occupational settings.

The addendum on Hazard Detection in First Responder Environments expands the applicability of the Components document by presenting

  • Issues for definition of first-responder instrument capabilities and requirements for dealing with chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives incidents.
  • A standardized test protocol and performance acceptance criteria for evaluating commercially available, direct-reading monitors in a style similar to the Components document.
  • Guidance to assist manufacturers in producing and first responders in selecting instruments for measurement of exposure to hazardous substances when responding to emergency incidents.

Two case studies that illustrate the hostile environmental conditions encountered by first responders are presented in Appendix A of the addendum. These case studies offer insights into the harsh and challenging conditions that should be represented when testing direct-reading monitors for first responders.

The Components document and the addendum present the scientific background, the evaluation criteria, and the statistical methods needed for evaluation of direct-reading instruments. These two documents provide a useful summary of current knowledge for the successful evaluation and selection of monitors for effective assessment of gas and vapor hazards in occupational and emergency settings. As technologies continue to change and as we and our partners learn from ongoing practice, NIOSH will continue its efforts in direct-reading by developing new methods and monitors and by enhancing the guidance for their use and interpretation by inclusion in the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods. I invite you to visit our new resources and to watch our Web page for other updates and announcements as they occur.

September 5 is N95 Day!

In order to promote proper respirator usage, NIOSH has declared September 5 to be National N95 Day. Every worker using an N95 respirator should have confidence that this equipment is providing the required protection. To check if your model of respirator is NIOSH-approved, simply go to our website at /niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/n95list1.html and match the manufacturer, model, and approval number with our list of approved respirators. While you’re there, be sure you are wearing your respirator properly by checking the manufacturer’s donning instructions as well.

Bookmark it Now! NIOSH Hurricane Response Resources

The NIOSH topic page Emergency Response Resources for Storm/Flood and Hurricane Response now includes the most up-to-date resources NIOSH has available for storm/flood and hurricane response as Hurricane Season 2012 continues. /niosh/topics/emres/flood.html

Help for Small Businesses

NIOSH’s new Small Business Safety and Health Resource Guide is intended to assist time-pressed small business owners as they seek out regulations, training materials, and recommendations. The guide contains summaries of and links to more than 50 Web sites produced by commercial, academic, and government organizations. Each resource was reviewed for relevance, ease of use, cost, and credibility. /niosh/topics/smbus/guide/

Radio Highlights NIOSH Commercial Fishing Safety Tools

A broadcast on National Public Radio highlighted NIOSH’s leadership with partners in identifying, testing, and disseminating tools and strategies for preventing work-related injuries and deaths in commercial fishing. Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, director of NIOSH’s Alaska Pacific Regional Office, was interviewed.

Free Hearing Loss Webinar

On September 11, at 2:30 EDT, join NIOSH for a free NIOSH train-the-trainer webinar on preventing work-related hearing loss. CEUs are available. For more information or to register, go to

NIOSH Welcomes Dr. Douglas Johns

Douglas O. Johns, Ph.D., has joined NIOSH as the deputy director in the NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies in Morgantown, WV. Dr. Johns came to NIOSH from the National Center for Environmental Assessment, EPA, Research Triangle Park, NC, where he served as a senior health scientist, conducting research and developing scientific assessments to support the reviews of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Welcome Dr. Johns!

NIOSH Leadership Recognized at Internoise 2012

NIOSH’s leadership in research and outreach to prevent work-related hearing loss was recognized at Internoise 2012, the 41st International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering, held in New York City, Aug. 19–22. NIOSH work was mentioned several times at the opening ceremony, specifically for the Power tools database, the Buy-quiet initiative and the Safe-in-Sound Award. New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg also alluded to NIOSH’s research leadership in a letter presented at the conference. A local New York City partnership for reducing construction noise received the 2010 Safe-in-Sound Award for Innovation.

NIOSH Provides Input Into Microbial Risk Assessment Guidelines

The Microbial Risk Assessment Guideline, which was developed by an Interagency Workgroup lead by Drs. Kerry Dearfield (USDA) and Nicholas Ashbolt (EPA), was recently released. The guideline was designed to be a template for doing a risk assessment of microbial agents. NIOSH was one of many agencies invited to participate in the development of the guideline. NIOSH researcher, Ken Martinez and NIOSH Chief of Staff, Frank Hearl represented NIOSH and participated in meetings and provided content and review.

NIOSH Congratulates….

NIOSH NASA Achievement Award Winners

A NASA Agency Group Achievement Award was presented on August 21 to the Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation System (NAIRAS) team headed by Christopher Mertens of NASA-Langley. Barbara Grajewski of NIOSH is a NAIRAS team collaborator. Other NIOSH contributors include Jeri Anderson, Martha Waters, Chih-Yu Tseng, Rick Cassinelli II, and Lian Luo. NAIRAS is a NASA project to develop an operational prototype for a global, real-time, data-driven predictive system needed to assess biologically harmful levels of atmospheric ionizing radiation to which crews and passengers of long-range aircraft could be exposed.

NIOSH Researchers Scaling Mt. Rainier

From left to right: (Rope team 1) Aaron Sussell, Ron Weitzenkorn, Doug Evans, and Brian Curwin; (Rope team 2) Boris Lushniak, Gene Freund, Tom Hales, and Ostap Melnyk. Aaron, Doug, Brian and Tom are currently NIOSH researchers and Boris is a NIOSH Alumus.

From July 31 to Aug 3, four NIOSH researchers scaled Mt. Rainier as part of an 8 man team. Photo: From left to right: (Rope team 1) Aaron Sussell, Ron Weitzenkorn, Doug Evans, and Brian Curwin; (Rope team 2) Boris Lushniak, Gene Freund, Tom Hales, and Ostap Melnyk. Aaron, Doug, Brian and Tom are currently NIOSH researchers and Boris is a NIOSH Alumnus.

News from Our Partners

Wisconsin Educates Workers on Silica Exposure in Hydraulic Fracturing Sand

The Wisconsin Occupational Health Surveillance program is distributing the latest OSHA/NIOSH Hazard Alert Worker Exposure to Silica during Hydraulic Fracturing ( and other educational materials to all mining and trucking companies involved with silica sand. The mailing is also being sent to local public health departments throughout the state. A map of Wisconsin that shows silica sand deposit distribution in the state can be found at

New Mexico Produces Lead Exposure Prevention Information at Indoor Firing Ranges

The New Mexico Department of Health’s Occupational Health Surveillance and Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance Programs combined forces to produce a new brochure titled Lead in Firing Ranges—How To Reduce Your Exposure to address lead exposures of workers and users of indoor firing ranges. The brochure was produced in partnership with a commercial indoor firing range partner in New Mexico, and is available on the Web at

Two-Year Post Doc Position, Harvard School of Public Health

The Harvard School of Public Health, Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing, and the Yerby Fellowship Program announce a two-year post-doctoral fellowship position beginning September 2013. Applications are due on January 1, 2013.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update

HHE logo Evaluation of Exposure to Radon Progeny during Closure of Inactive Uranium Mines

HHE Program investigators evaluated employee exposures to radon while constructing mine closures at abandoned uranium mines. Investigators found that the potential for exposures to radon was low. In some instances, controls were needed to keep exposures as low as reasonably achievable. Investigators recommended that management

  • Inform employees about potential radiation hazards in the workplace,
  • Improve environmental monitoring done prior to the bid to more accurately estimate potential exposures,
  • Use fans to provide dilution ventilation at mine openings,
  • Construct temporary radon barriers at mine openings.

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

New Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Reports Available

Volunteer Fire Fighter Suffers Hearth Attack and Dies After Fighting a Structure Fire—Louisiana

A 45-year-old male volunteer fire fighter assisted in exterior fire suppression operations without the protection of a self-contained breathing apparatus. A short time later, he commented that he “felt funny” and suddenly collapsed. CPR was begun and the fire fighter was transported to the local hospital where he never regained consciousness. NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of fire suppression activities triggered his heart attack, resulting in sudden cardiac death. /niosh/fire/reports/face201210.html

Volunteer Fire Chief Suffers Fatal Heart Attack While Fighting a Structure Fire-Mississippi

A 45-year-old male volunteer fire chief responded to a residential structure fire where he assisted in exterior fire suppression operations without the protection of a self-contained breathing apparatus. The chief became ill and was transported to a local hospital, where he began complaining of chest pain. Seventy-five minutes later, the chief suffered cardiac arrest and died. Given the chief’s long history of underlying coronary heart disease, NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of fire suppression activities triggered his heart attack and subsequent cardiac death. /niosh/fire/reports/face201211.html

Career Fire Apparatus Operator Suffers Cardiac Death during Fitness Training—Hawaii

A 50-year-old male career fire apparatus operator (FAO) was working a 24-hour shift. After returning from an emergency call, he began working out as part of the fire department’s wellness/fitness program. Approximately 3 hours later, a crew member found the FAO unresponsive in the station’s exercise room. NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of physical fitness training probably triggered his sudden cardiac death. /niosh/fire/reports/face201203.html


Join the Campaign: Safety Pays. Falls Cost

The NORA Construction Sector Council set the priority and then provided the vision and early support for a national awareness campaign to reduce falls in construction. NIOSH, the National Construction Center (CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training) and OSHA developed websites and implemented the campaign. In April, the campaign was kicked off by U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’ initial announcement and video, and by August had been followed by 10,000 visitors to the main campaign Web site and well over a 100,000 copies of print materials distributed by OSHA. Can you help get the word out? Visit the Web sites for more information or email to join the campaign.

r2p Corner

r2p logo NIOSH and State of Alaska Renew Partnership

In June, NIOSH and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services renewed their long-time partnership. NIOSH and the state of Alaska have been in partnership since 1991. The collaboration covers activities for the prevention and control of workplace traumatic injuries and fatalities. An epidemiology bulletin titled Work-related Injuries; Alaska 2001–2010 was recently co-authored by staff from NIOSH and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services ( For more information, contact Jennifer Lincoln at (907) 271-2383 or

NIOSH Collaborations on Respirator Technology

NIOSH signed partnership agreements with two respirator manufacturers, 3M and Scott Safety, to enhance an existing collaboration with the Veterans Health Administration on Project BREATHE (Better Respirator Equipment and Advanced Technologies for Healthcare Employees), which seeks to improve respirator compliance among healthcare workers by developing innovative respirator designs. As part of this collaboration, NIOSH is studying the factors affecting respirator comfort and performance. By working with these partners, this information could translate into a respirator specifically for healthcare workers. For more information, please contact Ronald Shaffer at (412) 386-4001 or

What’s new on the NIOSH Science Blog? Join the Discussion Today!

Federal Register Notices

NIOSH Proposed Project: Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Among Emergency Medical Services Workers

For a full listing of NIOSH official publications for rules, proposed rules, and notices, visit the NIOSH Federal Register page.

New Communication Products

Story of Impact
A Story of Impact: NIOSH-funded Research Helps Reduce Occupational Exposure to PCBs When Renovating Schools /niosh/docs/2012-170/

As Highlighted in the September Director’s Desk

Components for Evaluation of Direct-Reading Monitors for Gases and Vapors /niosh/docs/2012-162/

Addendum to Components for Evaluation of Direct-Reading Monitors for Gases and Vapors: Hazard Detection in First Responder Environments /niosh/docs/2012-163/

Call for Abstracts, Proposals and Presentations

Total Worker Health Symposium
Call for poster or oral presentations. Deadline for submission is September 5. Email proposals to

23rd Annual Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference
Call for Art & Science Presentation and Activity Session proposals. Submission deadline is September 21.
Call for Peer Presentations. Submissions accepted August 24 through February 15.

Digital Health Communication Extravaganza 2013 (DHCX)
Call for abstracts. Submission deadline is September 21.

American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo (AIHce) 2013
Call for presentation proposals. Submission deadline is September 28.

Work, Stress and Health 2013: Protecting and Promoting Total Worker Health™
Call for proposals. Submission deadline is October 1.

National Safety Council 2013 Texas Safety Conference & Expo
Call for presentation proposals. Submission deadline is October 5.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

Western States Occupational Network (WestON) Annual Meeting
September 20–21, Denver, CO

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

International Society for Respiratory Protection (ISRP), A Global View on Respiratory Protection
September 23–27, Boston, MA

EPA Emergency Preparedness and HazMat Response Conference
September 23–27, Baltimore, MD

Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP)
October 3–6, Las Vegas, NV

American Osteopathic College of Occupational & Preventive Medicine (AOCOPM)
2012 Annual Meeting
October 6–11, San Diego, CA

XXXth International Symposium of the International Social Security Association Construction Section (ISSA-C) on Occupational Safety and Health in the Construction Industry
October 16–18, Boston, MA

2012 National Safety Congress & Expo—Celebration of the Century
October 20–25 in Orlando, FL

Pennsylvania Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health Conference (PA Gosh) October 29–30, Hershey, PA

Pittsburgh Coal Mining Institute of America and Society for Mining and Exploration Joint Meeting
October 25–26, Canonsburg, PA

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

American Industrial Hygiene Association Fall Conference
October 27–31, San Antonio, TX

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

Personal Protective Equipment Workshop
November 27–30, Hollywood, FL

Total Worker Health Symposium
November 29-30, Coralville, IA

Digital Health Communication Extravaganza 2013 (DHCX)
February 20-22, 2013, Orlando, FL

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

2013 National Safety Council Texas Safety Conference & Expo
April 7–9, 2013. Galveston, TX

Association of Perioperative Nurses
March 2–7, 2013, San Diego, CA

Fire Industry Equipment Research Organization Fire PPE Symposium
March 4–6, 2013, Raleigh, NC

IAFC Wildland Urban Interface 2013
March 19–21, 2013, Reno, NV

Fire Department Instructors Conference
April 22–27, 2013, Indianapolis, IN

IAFC Fire-Rescue Med
May 4–8, 2013, Las Vegas, NV

APA Work, Stress, and Health 2013: Protecting and Promoting Total Worker Health™
May 16–19, 2013, Los Angeles, CA

Association for Professionals in Infection Control, 40th Annual Conference
June 8–10, 2013, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

New England Fire/Rescue/EMS 2013
June 19–23, 2013, Springfield, MA

8th International Conference on Prevention of Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders
July 8–11, 2013, Busan, Korea

IAFC Missouri Valley Annual Conference
July 10–12, 2013, Colorado Springs, CO

ICOH SC Joint Conference
September 23–26, 2013, São Paulo, Brazil

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

Did you know?

Did you know that Bill Murphy works as a researcher for the Hearing Loss Prevention Team at NIOSH and attributes his work in acoustics engineering, the study of sound and vibration, to his love of music? Bill’s family musical traditions were highlighted in an article in the Door County Advocate

Please send your comments and suggestions to us by visiting /niosh/contact/.

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.