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NIOSH Wins 1997 R&D 100 Award

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 260-8519
September 30, 1997

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has won a prestigious R & D 100 Award that recognizes the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year as judged by R & D Magazine. Competition for the coveted award includes the most prestigious companies, research organizations, and universities in the world.

“We are proud of winning this high honor for the first time and pleased that the award recognizes this life-saving technology that will have significant impact on the mining community,” said NIOSH Director, Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H.

NIOSH, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, received the award for developing the Portable Modified Direct Method Apparatus for measuring methane in rock samples. Methane is a hazard in the mining industry and can cause explosions in underground mines. In the last 10 years, there have been 10 large-scale coal mine methane explosions resulting in injuries or fatalities. In addition, there were 772 small-scale ignitions of methane over the same time period.

The NIOSH invention will measure methane in rock samples, potentially reducing the risk of mine explosions and improving the safety of underground mine workers. Additionally, the device will allow the gas-producing industry to measure gas content of coalbeds before proceeding with the development of expensive production sites.

The Portable Modified Direct Method Apparatus, developed by NIOSH’s Pittsburgh Research Center (formerly located in the Bureau of Mines), improves the state-of-the-art in gas content testing equipment. The design is easier to use, rugged, compact, lightweight, reliable, and relatively inexpensive, yet provides more accurate gas content data than current instruments.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the R&D 100 Awards. Past winners include the fax machine, antilock brakes, the automated teller machine, and the Nicoderm antismoking patch. The awards are often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of applied research” and the “Oscars of Invention.”

For more information on NIOSH or the Portable Modified Direct Method Apparatus call 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674).