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Scientific Excellence of Five Publications Recognized with 1999 Alice Hamilton Award

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 260-8519
May 6, 1999

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today recognized the scientific excellence of five recent NIOSH publications that contribute new technical information and innovative methods for protecting workers from serious injury, illness, and death on the job.

The entries received NIOSH’s Alice Hamilton Award honoring superior scientific merit in NIOSH technical and instructional materials produced during 1998. The award is presented each year, on the basis of rigorous reviews by panels of scientific experts from outside the Institute, for outstanding NIOSH contributions in the areas of biological science, engineering and physical science, human studies, and educational materials.

“As a pioneering physician and researcher in workplace health and safety, Alice Hamilton established a shining model for our field,” said NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H. “It is a pleasure to honor, in her name, the research that so well exemplifies Dr. Hamilton’s tradition of sound, vigorous, and collaborative science for the public good.”

The five recipients of the 1999 Alice Hamilton Award include:

  • A study that furthers scientists’ ability to predict adverse effects of chemical and other exposures on the male reproductive system, by evaluating a new approach for assessing effects of lead on sperm.
  • A study that advances coal mine safety by analyzing, in new detail, the geological stresses that play a significant role in deadly mine cave-ins, and suggesting more effective techniques for preventing cave-ins by predicting and controlling those stresses.
  • A study that signals a potential risk of cancer of the esophagus from exposure to widely used metalworking fluids, based on a rigorous statistical analysis of deaths among grinding and machining workers.
  • A study that alerts scientists for the first time to subtle effects of a widely used fumigant on the central nervous system, based on the largest analysis of exposed workers to date.
  • An innovative training video that provides employers and workers with practical, user-friendly information for preventing hazardous exposures to metal fumes and silica in foundries.

NIOSH announced the recipients in a ceremony at the institute’s facilities in Morgantown, W.Va. Dr. Margaret Becklake, a clinician, researcher, and teacher whose honors include a Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Thoracic Society, presented the keynote address. The ceremony was broadcast to other NIOSH locations in Cincinnati, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Spokane, Wash.; Washington, D.C.; and Atlanta, Ga.

Publications were judged by the outside scientific review panels on several criteria, including the complexity and originality of the research, the significance of the research for addressing serious or prevalent workplace hazards, and the clarity of the presentation. A list of the winning publications appears on the following pages.

For additional information on these publications, on Alice Hamilton Award winners from past years, and on other NIOSH research, contact the toll-free NIOSH information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH(1-800-356-4674). Information on NIOSH research also is available on the World Wide Web at

1999 ALICE HAMILTON AWARD WINNERS Biological Science Category

“Male Reproductive Effects of Lead, Including Species Extrapolation for the Rabbit Model” – William J. Moorman, Stephen R. Skaggs, John C. Clark, Terry W. Turner, Douglas D. Sharpnack, and Steven M. Schrader, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio; James A. Murrell, Analytical Sciences Inc., Durham, N.C.; Stephen D. Simon, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Kan.; and Robert E. Chapin, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Predicting human effects from animal studies is a standard technique in toxicology, but huge uncertainties remain for most outcomes, including reproductive effects. Fundamental uncertainties about estimating “dose” delivered to the human or to the laboratory animal as a surrogate for the human, best measures of exposure, and the presence of “safe” threshold levels remain open. This paper presents data on sperm count, semen volume, and other measures in laboratory animals exposed to lead, matches these effects with specific blood-lead levels in the test animals, and estimates comparable blood-lead levels in humans as a step in developing a more certain model for predicting human effects from those in animals.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Category

“Horizontal Stress and Longwall Headgate Ground Control” – Christopher Mark, Thomas P. Mucho, and Dennis Dolinar, NIOSH, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Horizontal stress in the ground, resulting from tectonic forces, causes many of the rock fall hazards in coal mines. Stress lines can be predicted and estimated using mathematical techniques, to prevent rock falls and save miners’ lives.

Human Studies Category

“Mortality Studies of Metalworking Fluid Exposure in the Automobile Industry: VI. A Case-Control Study of Esophageal Cancer” – Patricia A. Sullivan, NIOSH, Morgantown, W.Va.; Ellen A. Eisen, Susan R. Woskie, David Kriebel, and David H. Wegman, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Lowell, Mass.; Marilyn F. Hallock, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; S. Katherine Hammond, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, Calif.; Paige E. Tolbert, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.; and Thomas J. Smith and Richard R. Monson, Harvard University School of Public Health, Boston, Mass.

Metalworking fluid exposures remain common in the U.S. (where approximately 1.2 million workers are exposed regularly) and around the world. Esophageal cancer is one of the cancers whose incidence is rising in North America. This is the first study to document an association between metalworking fluids and esophageal cancer.

“Health Effects Associated with Sulfuryl Fluoride and Methyl Bromide Exposure Among Structural Fumigation Workers” – Geoffrey M. Calvert, Charles A. Mueller, John M. Fajen, David W. Chrislip, John Russo, and Kyle Steenland, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio; Thomas Briggle, USA Medical Services, Miami, Fla.; Lora E. Fleming, University of Miami, Miami, Fla.; and Anthony J. Suruda, Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The pesticide sulfuryl fluoride is used increasingly for structural fumigation in place of a series of pesticides shown to have adverse human and environmental effects. Studying adverse health effects from pesticides is always complicated because work location and working conditions can change from day to day, among other factors. This is the first paper suggesting that chronic health effects can also result from exposure to this pesticide, and that the pesticide should not be used without due caution.

Educational Materials Category

“Caution: Foundry at Work” (educational video) – John Diether, Roger Wheeler, Alan Echt, and Dennis O’Brien, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Newer approaches to worker safety and health training, such as use of peer instruction and small-group methods, require modern training materials that will be informative, attention-getting, and audience-appropriate. This educational video for use in foundries represents such a product.