NIOSH logo and tagline

NIOSH eNews – January 2011


Volume 8 Number 9 January 2011


From the Director’s Desk

John Howard, M.D.
Director, NIOSH
January eNews 2011

NIOSH enters 2011—our 40th anniversary and the 15th anniversary of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)—with a full schedule of programs, projects, and products. We also face the challenge of doing all that we would like to do within tighter budgetary constraints. As we set priorities for allocating limited resources as wisely as possible, the following activities place high on our list of core research activities:

  • Issuing a final version of Asbestos and Other Elongated Mineral Particles: State of the Science and Roadmap for Research—perhaps better known as the Asbestos Roadmap. We expect to issue this document in the early weeks of 2011. Once that occurs, we will work with our diverse partners to plan and carry out the blueprint of research that it will recommend. We have worked closely and diligently with our stakeholders to shepherd this document through extensive review, including rigorous scientific review and comment from the National Academies. The Asbestos Roadmap will provide an agenda for needed research to fill lingering gaps in scientific knowledge about the identification and application of the term “asbestos” for health and regulatory purposes. This progress is vital for resolving uncertainties that continue to cloud scientific and policy debates.
  • Further advancing our strategic research on the occupational health and safety implications of nanotechnology. Where the Asbestos Roadmap addresses legacy concerns from twentieth-century industrial processes, NIOSH’s research in nanotechnology is widely recognized as vital to the safe growth of revolutionary industries in the twenty-first century. We will gather and review public comments on the draft current intelligence bulletin on carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers that we issued last month (
    . We also expect stakeholder interest in our current intelligence bulletin on titanium dioxide, TiO2, in final review, and stand ready to help move its recommendations into practice. Like the Asbestos Roadmap, this document has received extensive public and peer review. To our knowledge, it is the first scientific document to recommend respective occupational exposure limits for both fine and ultrafine forms of a material. As such, it represents an important pioneering document in national efforts to address the occupational health implications of nano-scale materials.
  • Posting a draft criteria document on the butter flavorings diacetyl and 2,3-pentadione for public comment. The draft will describe the current scientific literature on the occupational health effects associated with the substances, discuss NIOSH’s conclusions from the body of scientific evidence, and present recommendations for limiting work-related exposures, including recommended exposure limits. We expect to release the draft document for public comment this spring. /niosh/topics/flavorings/
  • Continuing our investments in safety and health research in the energy industries and, in particular, expanding our partnerships in aspects of energy production where we do not have long-established research programs as we do in coal and metal and nonmetal mining. These areas include oil and gas extraction, uranium mining, and “green” energy production. All of these industries are expected to see significant growth in the coming decade, as demands for energy increase and alternatives to fossil fuels are explored. These initiatives will build on linkages that we have made in the last three years through our offices in the West and the Pacific Northwest and through the Oil and Gas Extraction Sector Council under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), as well as building on our Safe Green Industries partnerships under the Prevention through Design program.
  • Creating a NIOSH center for motor vehicle safety to focus our research for preventing work-related injuries and deaths from highway crashes and other motor vehicle incidents. Year after year, motor vehicle incidents continue to rank as the leading cause of death on the job across multiple industries. From existing partnerships with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and others, we know that efforts to stem this terrible toll will benefit greatly from a systematic, centralized program of research within NIOSH. We will have more information in the coming weeks as we roll out a new Web page describing this effort.
  • Striving to expand our partnerships for combining worker health protection and workplace-based health promotion under our Total Worker Health (WorkLife) initiative. As individuals, companies, and government seek innovative ways to contain spiraling health costs, it makes little sense to maintain artificial barriers between programs to control workplace hazards and programs to encourage healthy lifestyles. Today’s leading public health problems, from adolescent obesity to tobacco smoke, offer valuable opportunities for cross-collaborations among occupational health professionals, nutritionists, physicians, insurers, and others, but perceptions that have governed health practices for decades can be difficult to change, however outdated. NIOSH and its partners will continue to pursue new research for generating data, case studies, and success stories to further bolster our case.

I should also note that on January 2, 2011, President Obama signed H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. The text of the new law can be found at /niosh/topics/wtc/hr847.html. Information about NIOSH’s earlier activities since 2002 in federal support for health monitoring and treatment related to World Trade Center exposures can be found on the NIOSH Web page at /niosh/topics/wtc/.

Given the range and substance of our agenda for 2011, the amount of headway we can make in 2011 in our core research areas will depend on the resources available to us. Since this is a time of fiscal restraint generally, those resources are likely to be even more limited than usual. Since October 1, 2010, NIOSH and other agencies have been operating under a series of short-term continuing resolutions that limit spending to fiscal 2010 levels, essentially a flat-lined budget from last year. The current continuing resolution provides funding through March 4, 2011. Specific developments after that remain to be seen, but all signs indicate that tight budgets will continue to shape Washington’s fiscal decisions for the foreseeable future.

We look forward to updating you on our progress throughout the year, and we welcome your insights and suggestions—in a time of resource constraints for all of us—on how we can best work together to pursue our common goals for protecting working men and women.

New Web Page Focuses on Tobacco Smoke in the Workplace

NIOSH has released a new workplace safety and health topic page on tobacco smoke in the workplace. The page provides resources to help employers and workers prevent workplace exposures to tobacco smoke and to encourage workplace-based smoking cessation programs. /niosh/topics/tobacco/

NIOSH Releases Final HHE Deepwater Horizon Response

NIOSH released the ninth, and final, interim report highlighting the findings and recommendations from the health hazard evaluation of Deepwater Horizon response workers. All of the interim reports and sampling and health symptom survey data are available at /niosh/topics/oilspillresponse/gulfspillhhe.html. More information on NIOSH’s involvement in the Deepwater Horizon Response can be found at /niosh/topics/oilspillresponse/.

WTC Treatment Program Update

The latest numbers are in: 57,914 participants were enrolled in the World Trade Center health monitoring and treatment program as of September 30, 2010. This statistic and other latest available quarterly numbers from the program were posted by NIOSH on December 15. /niosh/topics/wtc/participants.html

Free Workplace Safety and Health Info

NIOSH communication products are available for free through the NIOSH Web site. Get copies of the newest information in occupational safety and health right off the press. /niosh/pubs/order.html. Multiple copies of many publications are available; email for more information.

NIOSH Provides Input on New Standard to Protect Law Enforcement

On November 1, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice released a new National Institute of Justice (NIJ) voluntary standard that defines performance requirements and test methods for ensembles used to protect law enforcement officers from chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological (CBRN) hazards. The standard also states that respirators used with such ensembles must be NIOSH-certified for CBRN protection. NIOSH physical scientist Bill Haskell served on the NIJ Special Technical Committee that developed this standard. The new NIJ Standard can be found at

New Guidelines for Pregnant Women and Lead Exposure

CDC released the document titled Guidelines for the Identification and Management of Lead Exposure in Pregnant and Lactating Women. NIOSH provided input on the contents of this document addressing prevention of occupational exposures ( A podcast is also available at For more information on lead exposure and prevention go to /niosh/topics/ABLES/ables.html.

Personal Protective Technology Meeting Announced for March

The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory will hold a stakeholder meeting on March 29 at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh Airport. This meeting will provide a unique opportunity to communicate directly with NIOSH about its current research projects and other workplace safety and health topics that affect specific industries. The meeting will emphasize personal protective equipment in healthcare, mining, agriculture, and public safety. /niosh/npptl/resources/pressrel/letters/InterestedParties/lttr-03292011.html

In Memoriam: Sharon Jenkins

NIOSH was saddened to learn of the death of Sharon Jenkins on November 30 from a sudden illness. Sharon had over 30 years of government service. Sharon joined NIOSH in 1983 and served in various roles, the most recent being a public health advisor for the NIOSH Division of Compensation Analysis and Support. As evidence of her dedication to her work, Sharon received multiple superior work performance awards, employee of the month, Diversity Steering Council and EEO Advisory Council Diversity awards, and a Charles C. Shepard Science Award nomination. Sharon was a truly remarkable woman who will be deeply missed.

NIOSH Announces Funding Opportunities

Centers of Excellence to Promote a Healthier Workforce
Funding for the NIOSH WorkLife Program Centers of Excellence will be recompeted in FY2011 in accordance with announcement number RFA-OH-11-001. The deadline for applications is January 28.

Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education, and Prevention
Funding for the Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education, and Prevention will be recompeted in FY2011 in accordance with announcement number PAR-11-022. The deadline for applications is February 4.

NIOSH Requests Public Comment

Infectious Diseases and Emergency Responders
Public comments will be accepted through February 11 on a proposed list of infectious diseases that may pose life-threatening health risks to emergency response employees through bloodborne or airborne transmission. Comments will also be accepted on proposed guidelines describing the circumstances in which emergency response employees may be exposed to such diseases and proposed guidelines describing the manner in which medical facilities should determine whether emergency response employees have been exposed in the line of duty.

New Respiratory Device Standards
Public comments will be accepted through February 12 on a proposal to develop a performance standard for a combination respirator unit that employs the technologies of two or more different types of respiratory protective devices. The notice is part of NIOSH’s ongoing program for developing appropriate standards and test procedures for the various types of respiratory protective devices used to provide protection to workers in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear environments. /niosh/docket/review/docket082A/

Small Tubules and Potentially Big Health Implications!
Public comments will be accepted through February 18 on a draft document, Current Intelligence Bulletin: Occupational Exposure to Carbon Nanotubes and Nanofibers. The document summarizes current scientific knowledge about the occupational safety and health implications of carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers and recommends an occupational exposure limit and measures for controlling work-related exposures to those types of nanomaterials, based on the current state of knowledge. NIOSH also will hold a public meeting to discuss and obtain comments on February 3 in Cincinnati, Ohio. /niosh/updates/upd-12-02-10.html.

News from Our Partners

Occupational Medicine Residence Matching Service

The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics provides an occupational medicine (OM) residency “matching service” for potential candidates looking for an open OM training slot. Candidates usually are those who have developed an interest in OM training but may have applied too late for the December acceptance deadline of many programs. If you are a potential OM resident or know of someone who is interested in pursuing a career in OM, please send a copy of your current CV and a cover letter to

Wisconsin’s Work-Related Asthma Mini-Grants

To promote research and interventions around workplace asthma, the Wisconsin Division of Public Health’s Occupational Health Surveillance Program awarded mini-grants for four projects. Projects included asthma education in the workplace, development of an adult asthma education module, and investigation of a dairy operation for airborne asthma triggers. A summary of these projects and their findings can be found at

New NACOSH Members Announced

The Department of Labor recently announced appointment of five new members to the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health. They are Lida Orta-Anes, Gary R. Rosenblum, James Johnson, Rixio Medina, and William B. Bunn III. The committee advises OSHA and NIOSH.

Health Hazard Evaluations (HHE)

HHE logo Evaluation of Metal and Carbon Monoxide Exposures During Steel Slab Cutting and Slitting

HHE Program investigators evaluated metal dust and fume exposure to employees working in the caster/slitter and shipping areas at a large steel mill. Investigators sampled the air and found that employees were not exposed to airborne minerals, metals, or carbon monoxide levels above occupational exposure limits. The symptoms reported by employees are consistent with upper respiratory irritation due to dust exposure, but cannot be directly linked to an occupational exposure as they are common in the general population. Investigators recommended that the gaps in the mill-side and load-side crane cab enclosures be sealed and that air intakes and exhausts be checked. Investigators also recommended that the pipe fitter break room in the caster/slitter area be kept under positive pressure so that air flows from the break room to the surrounding production area. /niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2008-0091-3118.pdf


Manual Materials Handling Workshop

The NORA Wholesale and Retail Trade Sector Council and the Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities Sector Council are planning a jointly sponsored workshop for October. The main goal is to stimulate—through discussions among manufacturers/vendors of manual materials handling (MMH) equipment, trade and warehousing employers, insurers, researchers, and others—the wider adoption of current, effective MMH equipment and practices and the development of the next generation of MMH equipment. Workshop planners include the Warehousing Education and Research Council ( and a number of large companies. For more information about NORA or this workshop, contact

r2p Corner

r2p logo Over 1200 Attend Largest North American Oil and Gas Safety Conference

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Oil and Gas Safety Conference was recently held in Dallas, Texas. Based on attendance, this conference was the largest safety conference ever held in North America for this industry. NIOSH worked with its oil and gas extraction partners to both help plan the conference and to lead development of one of nine educational tracks titled Resources from Agencies and Associations. In addition, the National STEPS Network and the NIOSH Oil and Gas National Occupational Research Agenda Council meetings were held following the conference to further explore safety issues in this industry and pave the way for future research. For more information about the NIOSH Oil and Gas extraction research program, visit

What’s new on the NIOSH Science Blog?

This month, NIOSH blogs about the 30th Surgeon General’s Report on the dangers of smoking tobacco, released on December 9. The Surgeon General concludes that smoking is even more dangerous than one may think; the report adds further evidence to support NIOSH’s position that even nonsmoking workers are at risk if they are exposed on the job to tobacco smoke. /niosh/blog/

Communication Products

Guidelines for Safe Use of Modified Excess/Surplus Vehicles

The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program investigated seven fatal incidents involving crashes that occurred when fire fighters were operating modified excess/surplus vehicles. NIOSH recently published case studies and guidelines for safe use of such vehicles. /niosh/docs/wp-solutions/2011-125/pdfs/2011-125.pdf

Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention in Healthcare Workers

A user-friendly guide, released by NIOSH on January 3, describes prevention strategies that were shown to be highly effective in reducing slip, trip, and fall injuries in healthcare facilities. Slips, trips, and falls are a significant problem for healthcare workers. The guide highlights the top-ten workplace hazards for slips, trips, and falls in healthcare facilities along with corresponding evidence-based prevention strategies. A comprehensive checklist is also provided for use during walk-through hazard audits by safety staff. /niosh/docs/2011-123/

Documents for Mine Safety

CAP the NOISE to Save Your Hearing
Addresses what miners can do when exposed to hazardous noise. You do not have to lose your hearing if you CAP (control, avoid, and protect) the noise.

How to Operate a Refuge Chamber: A Quick Start Guide
Teaches miners how to operate refuge chambers if it became necessary in a mine emergency.

Steps to Safer Use of Skid-Steer Loaders

Describes six deaths involving skid-steer loaders and recommends methods for preventing similar incidents. /niosh/docs/2011-128/

New Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Reports

Career Fire Fighter Seriously Injured From Collapse of Bowstring Truss Roof —California

Lieutenant Suffers Fatal Heart Attack During Training—Ohio


To see other new NIOSH communication products, including documents and topic pages, go to the NIOSH “What’s New” page. /niosh/whatsnew/

Call for Abstracts

NORA Symposium 2011: Achieving Impact through Research and Partnerships.
Call for poster abstracts. Deadline for submission is March 9.

NIOSH National Occupational Injury Research Symposium
Call for abstracts. Deadline for submission is April 1.

Upcoming Conferences & Workshops

Public Meeting on Carbon Nanotubes and Nanofibers Draft Document
February 3, Cincinnati, OH

Musculoskeletal Disorders and Chronic Pain Conference
February 10-12, 2011, Los Angeles, CA.

Personal Protective Technology Program Stakeholders Meeting
March 29, Pittsburgh, PA

NORA Symposium 2011: Achieving Impact Through Research and Partnerships
July 12-13, Cincinnati, Ohio

5th International Conference on Nanotechnology Occupational and Environmental Health
August 9-12, Boston, MA

National Occupational Injury Research Symposium (NOIRS)
October 18-20, Morgantown, WV

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

Word of the Month

STEPS— The National STEPS Network is a grassroots network of regional safety, operations, and compliance specialists who gather monthly to share ideas, concerns, and best practices. For more information on STEPS go to

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.