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Coccidioidomycosis: An Enduring Work-Related Disease

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Construction, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Oil and Gas, Outdoor Work, Personal Protective Equipment, Respiratory Health

A prison located in an arid, hyperendemic area of the Central Valley of California. There is little natural vegetation on the grounds and in the surrounding areas. Photograph by NIOSH.

Background

Coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, is a disease caused by the fungus Coccidioides. The fungus grows in the soil in very dry areas. Coccidioidomycosis is endemic (native and common) in the southwestern United States, the Central Valley of California, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America [CDC 2013a]. About 150,000 new infections have been estimated to occur each year in the United States [Galgiani et al. 2005] but only about 22,000 cases were reported in 2011 in the United States. This suggests that the disease is greatly underreported [CDC 2013b]. The apparent incidence of reported coccidioidomycosis increased from 1998 to 2011, from 5.3 cases per 100,000 population in the endemic area (Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah) in 1998 to 42.6 cases per 100,000 in 2011, although concern has been expressed that some of this increase might be related to changes in surveillance definitions, laboratory practices, and increased awareness leading to increased testing for the disease [CDC 2013b].

The Importance of Occupational Safety and Health: Making for a “Super” Workplace

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Mining, Oil and Gas, Personal Protective Equipment, Sports and Entertainment, Training

Graphic by Stephen R. Leonard

There’s just something about superhero movie summer releases that gets us here at NIOSH excited about safety. This summer the source of our inspiration came from the Man of Steel© movie. In the film, pre-Superman Clark Kent is working as a commercial fisherman (a hazardous job if you’re not a man of steel). He risks exposing his amazing abilities when he swoops in to save the workers on a nearby oil rig who are in great danger as the rig implodes around them.

The scene is reminiscent of Action Comics© issue #3, the original Superman comic book series dating all the way back to 1938. In Action Comics #3, “Superman Battles Death Underground“, (issued 75 years ago this month) Superman is in the right place at the right time to save a coal miner, as well as his rescue crew, from an unsafe mine filled with toxic gas. We see instances such as these riddled throughout comic books and superhero movies. There’s always a hero around to save the day.

How Does Work Affect the Health of the U.S. Population? Free Data from the 2010 NHIS-OHS Provides the Answers

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Construction, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Health care, Manufacturing, Mining, Oil and Gas, Safety and Health Data, Service Sector, Transportation, Wholesale and Retail Trade

You may have some hypotheses about how work affects the health of the U.S. population, but collecting data from a nationally representative sample is expensive and time-consuming. What if there was free data available at your fingertips? You’re in luck!

NIOSH sponsored an Occupational Health Supplement (OHS) to the 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and the data is publicly available. See the NIOSH Topic Page for more information. Over 17 thousand current and recent U.S. workers supplied information on their industry, occupation, and the workplace health conditions and exposures listed below. Initial results have been published in the June issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. We have provided a summary of the research and links to the articles below. What novel associations might you be able to find concerning your area of interest? We would also like your input on topics to cover in the 2015 survey. See the end of this post for information on how to suggest ideas.

NIOSH HPD Well-Fit™: The Future is Fit-Testing

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Construction, Hearing Loss, Manufacturing, Mining, Oil and Gas, Personal Protective Equipment

  

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory

Today is Save Your Hearing Day.  For workers and others who are exposed to dangerously loud noises which cannot be reduced or eliminated, hearing protection devices (HPDs) are absolutely necessary to save their hearing.  But if HPDs are not properly selected or correctly worn, the devices may not block out enough noise and the wearer may still risk a loss of hearing.  How can a person tell if their HPDs are fit correctly?  A new development from NIOSH – HPD Well-FitTM – can quickly and inexpensively test the performance of hearing protection.  This fit testing technology is a huge advancement in efforts to save workers’ hearing. 

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