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Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development – How NIOSH is Helping Design Improved Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers

Categories: Ebola, Emergency Response/Public Sector, Healthcare, International, Personal Protective Equipment

Figure 1. NIOSH sweating thermal manikin with the PPE ensemble commonly used by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) for high exposure areas. This PPE ensemble includes a TyChem C coverall (a type of limited-use Chemical Protective Coverall), a custom-made Tyvek hood with integrated surgical mask, rubber apron, respirator, googles, rubber gloves, and rubber boots.  Photo courtesy of NIOSH NPPTL.

Figure 1. NIOSH sweating thermal manikin with the PPE ensemble commonly used by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) for high exposure areas. This PPE ensemble includes a TyChem C coverall (a type of limited-use Chemical Protective Coverall), a custom-made Tyvek hood with integrated surgical mask, rubber apron, respirator, googles, rubber gloves, and rubber boots. Photo courtesy of NIOSH.

The current Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the largest in history and is unprecedented in many ways, including the large number of healthcare workers who have been infected while treating patients. The large scale of the epidemic, as well as the two healthcare workers who contracted Ebola while caring for the first case in the United States, has directed particular attention to the personal protective equipment (PPE) used by healthcare workers to reduce their risk of infection. PPE is designed to create a barrier to prevent pathogens from entering the body through the mucous membranes or broken skin. Examples of PPE used for Ebola include (but are not limited to) gloves, gown/coverall, mask/respirator, apron, faceshield/goggles, and cap/hood (see Figure 1). Reports from healthcare workers in West Africa indicate that some personnel are able to wear their PPE for only 40 minutes at a time because of the high ambient temperature and humid conditions. Even in the United States, where management of patients with Ebola is done in air-conditioned environments, uncomfortable PPE is a common complaint and causes additional burden for healthcare workers.

The Future of Wearable Technology in the Workplace

Categories: Technology

 

Mention of a product or service does not constitute and endorsement by NIOSH or the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Author wearing Google Glasses. Photo courtesy of Dr. Nabeel.

An era of remarkable innovation is underway. We’re looking at the advent of brand-new technologies called “Wearable Computers”. Wearable computers, also known as body-borne computers or wearables, are defined as “miniature electronic devices that are worn by the bearer under, with or on top of clothing”. (dictionary.com). We are already starting to appreciate their presence in our daily lives as people start wearing devices like Fitbit, Nike fuel band, Jawbone Up, Pebble Watch, even the device to track dog’s activity, “Whistle”.

In early 2013, I became part of the select group of 8,000 selected for the social experiment conducted by Google called the “Google Glass Explorer Program”.   The goal for this unique national social experiment was to figure out how wearable computers could work in a complex social setting. Last year, I was fortunate to be invited to present my experiences to NIOSH staff in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Be Pioneers to Protect Our Volunteers!

Categories: Emergency Response/Public Sector

oneresponder_beach (2)Emergency responders, such as police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics, are often on the front lines during a disaster, which makes them particularly vulnerable to work-related injuries and illnesses during a response. The scientific community has some knowledge about occupational injuries and illnesses among these groups from surveillance systems currently in place, notably the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), but the BLS database does not include volunteers.   What about the courageous responders from volunteer organizations or volunteer fire fighters and paramedics at local and county levels?

Can Workplace Exposures Increase Risks of Birth Defects? – Epidemiology in Action

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Epidemiology, Exposure, Reproductive Health, Women

Epidemiology is the art and science of using data to answer questions about the health of groups. In occupational epidemiology, we use that data to understand how work affects health. This blog entry is part of a series that shares the stories behind the data.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women get a lot of advice from just about everyone on just about everything– what to eat, medications to avoid, how much exercise they should do. When it comes to their jobs, though, the advice seems to dry up. That’s because occupational exposure limits are based on studies of healthy, non-pregnant workers and many early studies of occupational hazards were limited to men. These recommended exposure limits might not be sufficient to protect a developing fetus. We are trying to find out whether things people were exposed to at work like chemicals, noise, shift work, radiation, or germs affect their pregnancy outcomes and health of their children. One of the outcomes we study is birth defects.

 
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