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Exemplary Science for Prevention of Work Injury, Illness Highlighted in NIOSH Papers

June 15, 2004
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749

Nine scientifically exemplary studies by researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are nominated by NIOSH for a prestigious 2004 government science award. NIOSH also submitted nominations for an outstanding contribution to public health and a lifetime scientific achievement.

NIOSH submitted the nominations for the 2004 Charles C. Shepard Science Awards, sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of which NIOSH is a part. The awards recognize excellence in science at CDC during 2003. CDC will announce the winners on June 21, 2004.

“These nominations illustrate NIOSH’s ongoing leadership on the frontiers of health and safety science, and they show that our research is among the best in the world,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “The discoveries we make and the new scientific tools that we develop and use are essential for the increasingly complex task of preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.”

The studies nominated by NIOSH for the Shepard Awards were published in peer-reviewed journals in 2003. The nine papers:

  • Illustrate how NIOSH applies advanced laboratory techniques to identify potential health effects from workplace exposures, including effects at subtle levels in genes and cells that may help explain how occupational exposures can lead to cancer and other illnesses. The nominated papers include four such studies that produced new data for better understanding and assessing potential risks of work-related cancer, toxic effects from asphalt fumes, potential effects from arsenic exposures, and exposures to low-solubility particles.
  • Highlight NIOSH’s innovative use of death certificates, illness surveillance systems, and rigorous statistical methods to identify workplace exposures that may cause disease, and to identify worker populations that face serious risk of such illnesses. One of the nominated studies generated new information on statistical associations between crystalline silica exposure and risks for various illnesses. Another study identified a risk for acute pesticide-related illnesses in working youths.
  • Display NIOSH’s practical experience in devising and improving engineering controls and personal protective equipment. In this regard, three of the papers report findings from studies, that, respectively, 1) used three-dimensional laser scanning technology to help design fall-protection harnesses for today’s diverse workforce, 2) investigated respirator fit factors as an indicator of whether respirators perform as expected in actual workplace environments, and 3) evaluated the contributions of different engineering control measures for reducing levels of respirable dust generated in longwall mining operations.

NIOSH nominated the editors and staff of the “NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards” for outstanding scientific contribution to public health. The pocket guide is a key resource for occupational health professionals, employers, employees, and others. With the support of the National Technical Information Service and the private sector, CDC/NIOSH has disseminated more than 2.5 million paper and CD-ROM copies of the Pocket Guide to customers around the world.

NIOSH nominated Marilyn A. Fingerhut, Ph.D., for the lifetime scientific achievement award to recognize her outstanding career of scholarship and leadership in preventing occupational disease, injury, and death among workers. During Dr. Fingerhut’s 20 year career, she has conducted innovative and ground breaking research on dioxin, established herself as a champion and expert for occupational women’s health issues, and has moved forward global occupational health risk assessment. She also was instrumental in the development of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA).

The NIOSH nominations will appear on the NIOSH web page at For further information about NIOSH research and recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths, call the NIOSH toll-free information number 1-800-35-NIOSH or visit the NIOSH Web site at