NIOSH Science Blog Posts

Jobs and Exposures That Increase Risk for Developing COPD Later in Life

The 19th annual World COPD Day is November 18, 2020. COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – includes the chronic lung conditions of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which are characterized by airflow obstruction and breathing-related problems. COPD is a major cause of illness, with an estimated 300 million cases worldwide, and is the 3rd leading Read More >

Posted on by Sharon R. Silver, MS, MA; Walter A. Alarcon MD, MSc; and Jia Li, MS4 Comments

Can Exoskeletons Reduce Musculoskeletal Disorders in Healthcare Workers?

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) remain a major concern for workers in the healthcare industry. Healthcare workers are at high risk of work-related MSDs mainly caused by overexertion from lifting and moving patients (i.e., patient handling). Wearable robots—exoskeletons or exosuits—may be a useful tool to help reduce risk of MSDs during patient handling. Background Based on the Read More >

Posted on by Liying Zheng, PhD3 Comments

Recognizing Health Literacy at NIOSH

  As we come to the end of Health Literacy Month this October, we remember the quotation often attributed to Einstein, “that all physical theories, their mathematical expressions apart, ought to lend themselves to so simple a description ‘that even a child could understand them.’” There is an expectation in the research community that writing Read More >

Posted on by Tanya Headley, MS; Sarah Mitchell, MPH; and Sydney Webb, PhD2 Comments

Introducing an Occupational Health Resource: The Occupational Noise Job Exposure Matrix

Introduction Noise-induced hearing loss is highly prevalent in the U.S., and noise is increasingly being linked to other non-auditory health effects such as cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbance, and stress. However, our knowledge of noise exposures associated with many U.S. occupations is lacking. To address this issue, researchers used existing resources to develop a first-of-its-kind Job Read More >

Posted on by Rick Neitzel, PhD, CIH and CAPT Chucri (Chuck) A. Kardous, MS, PE5 Comments

The Story of a Lead Disaster Averted

A Sick Child and the Search for Answers   This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. The following fictional story of take-home lead exposure among children exemplifies a very real problem. A state health department is notified about a three-year-old boy who had recently been seen by his pediatrician due to ongoing vomiting, appetite Read More >

Posted on by Rebecca Tsai, PhD; Kathryn Egan, PhD; Amy Mobley, MEn; and Diana Ceballos, PhD, MS, CIH3 Comments

Hearing Loss Among Construction Workers: Chemicals Can Make It Worse

Three out of four construction workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels on the jobsite.[i] Noise levels are considered hazardous when they reach 85 decibels or higher. A NIOSH study examining hearing loss across industries found that construction workers have higher levels of hearing loss than workers in most industries.[ii] The highest rates are experienced Read More >

Posted on by Drew Hinton, MS, CSP, CHMM, COHC; CDR Elizabeth Garza, MPH, CPH; Jeanette Novakovich, MA, MS, PhD; Scott Earnest, PhD, PE, CSP; Thais Morata, PhD; and Trudi McCleery, MPH4 Comments

Assessing Lifting Risk Factors Using Wearable Motion Sensors

A combination of work-related physical risk factors such as awkward postures or heavy lifting may lead to an increased risk of developing low back issues. Those in the occupational safety and health field continue to conduct research to prevent workplace musculoskeletal injuries. Researchers have used industry settings, self-reports and observational methods to evaluate these injuries. Read More >

Posted on by Menekse S. Barim, PhD, AEP, and Ming-Lun (Jack) Lu, PhD, CPE1 Comment

Manufacturing Day 2020: Staying Safer in 2020

National Manufacturing Day 2020 is a day devoted to educating the public about manufacturing and manufacturers. About the Manufacturing Sector Manufacturing is the fourth largest industrial sector in the United States, currently employing about 15.6 million Americans, [1] representing aabout 11% of the gross domestic product. [2] The White House has declared manufacturing to be Read More >

Posted on by Gary A. Roth, MS, PhD and LCDR Adrienne Eastlake, MS, RS/REHS3 Comments

Preventing Struck-by Injuries in Construction

Struck-by injuries are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries and the second most common cause of fatalities among construction workers (1), costing over $1.7 billion in workers compensation costs in 2016 (2). These injuries occur when a worker is struck by a moving vehicle, equipment, or by a falling or flying object, (3). For construction Read More >

Posted on by Christina Socias-Morales, DrPH; Scott Earnest, PhD, PE, CSP; CAPT Alan Echt, DrPH, CIH; CDR Elizabeth Garza, MPH, CPH; Scott Breloff, PhDLeave a comment

The Unique Occupational Environment of the Home Healthcare Worker

Patient care is expanding beyond the walls of healthcare organizations. Improvements in technology, progression of disease management, and a growing number of persons seeking care within their homes are driving the growth of the home healthcare industry. Home healthcare workers (HHCWs) are a vital part of the rapidly growing industry and their work environment and Read More >

Posted on by Elizabeth Bien, PhD, MSN, RN, and Ron Smith, AIA, ACHA, ACHE, LEED AP8 Comments

Wildland Firefighter Health: Some Burning Questions

While research has not yet been conducted on all the hazards and risks associated with the wildland firefighting job, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is asked numerous questions about the hazards of fighting wildland fires. This blog is designed to answer some of those questions. What Is in Wildland Fire Smoke? Read More >

Posted on by LCDR Corey Butler, MS REHS; CAPT Christa Hale, DVM, MPH, DACVPM (Epi); Kathleen Navarro, PhD, MPH; Elizabeth Dalsey, MA; CAPT Chucri (Chuck) A. Kardous, MS, PE; Pamela S. Graydon, MS, COHC; and CAPT David C. Byrne, Ph.D., CCC-A5 Comments

Rising to the Challenges and Opportunities Presented by the Future of Work: NIOSH Introduces its Future of Work Initiative

The future of work is influenced by many changes to workplace, work, and workforce factors such as organizational design, work arrangements, technological job displacement, artificial intelligence, robotics, technologies, demographics, economic security, and skills. Advances in the future of work offer many opportunities, but they also create challenges for the workplace and work, with consequences for the Read More >

Posted on by Sara L. Tamers, PhD, MPH and John Howard, MDLeave a comment

Protecting Machine Operators from Silica Dust: Enclosed Cabs

  Construction workers who operate heavy equipment such as excavators, bulldozers, cranes, and backhoes frequently generate large quantities of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) dust. Exposure to even small amounts of RCS over time can cause silicosis, lung cancer, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other serious diseases. A recent study published in the American Read More >

Posted on by Scott Earnest, PhD, PE, CSP; Alan Echt, DrPH, CIH; Scott Breloff, PhD; Elizabeth Garza, MPH, CPH; Christina Socias-Morales, DrPH; Jeanette Novakovich, PhD4 Comments

The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Opioid Overdose Epidemic: A Perfect Storm for Workers?

Introduction Before the pandemic took hold, the United States was already facing another public health crisis – alarming rates of opioid-related overdose deaths. In 2018, 46,802 deaths were attributed to opioids, which accounted for 69% of all drug overdose deaths.1 Based on provisional data, an estimated 50,828 Americans died of opioid overdose in 2019 — Read More >

Posted on by Jamie Osborne, MPH, CHES®; L. Casey Chosewood, MD; and John Howard, MDLeave a comment

Statement by Dr. John Howard on the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance 2020

Nineteen years ago, we faced the unimaginable. The events of September 11th, 2001, have left a permanent mark on us all. Today we remember the lives lost on that fateful day, as well as the bravery, resilience, and sacrifice shown in the face of tragedy by responders and survivors. Each Day of Remembrance is also Read More >

Posted on by John Howard, M.D.4 Comments

Partnering to Prevent Suicide in the Construction Industry – Building Hope and a Road to Recovery

September is Suicide Prevention Month. During this yearly observance, many organizations will place special emphasis on mental health and suicide prevention – including those in the construction industry where suicide rates of workers are alarmingly high.1 Overall, suicide rates in the U.S. have increased, and it has been the 10th leading cause of death since Read More >

Posted on by Trudi McCleery, MPH; Scott Earnest, PhD, PE, CSP; Christina Socias-Morales, DrPH; and CDR Elizabeth Garza, MPH, CPH1 Comment

Supplementing the Supply of N95s with Reusable Elastomeric Half Mask Respirators

As we celebrate our annual Respiratory Protection Week Observance this year, we at NIOSH want to show our appreciation to all the workers who use respiratory protection and the manufacturers who develop these products to keep our nation’s workers safe. Whether your role is to heal, protect, create, or construct, we rely on your skills Read More >

Posted on by Lee Greenawald,PhD; Jaclyn Krah Cichowicz, MA and Maryann M. D’Alessandro, PhD7 Comments

Respiratory Protection vs. Source Control – What’s the difference?

In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends that adults and children two years and older wear a mask, especially when social distancing is not possible or feasible[1]. Cloth masks and medical masks used in healthcare settings (such as surgical or procedure masks) are important tools in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, Read More >

Posted on by Jaclyn Krah Cichowicz, MA; LCDR Megan Casey, RN, BSN, MPH; and Maryann M. D’Alessandro, PhD18 Comments

Labor Day 2020: Statement by John Howard, M.D., Director, NIOSH

Labor Day was created to honor workers for their contributions and achievements at a time in history when workers faced long working hours and dangerous working conditions. The need to recognize our nation’s workers for their contributions and resilience could not be more relevant today. Millions of workers provide “essential services”—services that are vital to Read More >

Posted on by John Howard, M.D., Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health2 Comments

Take Action to Protect Your Hearing

  In the United States, hearing loss is the third-most common chronic physical condition among adults after hypertension and arthritis. About 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to occupational noise each year. About 12% of the U.S. working population has hearing difficulty and around 58% of the hearing difficulty among U.S. workers is attributable to Read More >

Posted on by Amanda Azman, Au.D.Leave a comment