martes, 29 de septiembre de 2015

NIOSH Research Rounds - September, 2015

NIOSH Research Rounds - September, 2015


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NIOSH Research Rounds is Brought to You By:
  • John Howard, M.D., Director
  • Fred Blosser, Editor in Chief
  • Anne Blank, Story Editor
  • Tanya Headley, Contributing Editor
  • John Lechliter, Copy Editor
  • Glenn Doyle, Technical Lead
  • Tony Trucco, Technical Support

In This Issue

Identifying Workplace Chemical Exposures to Help Prevent Birth Defects

To learn whether exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals in the workplace increases the risk of birth defects, NIOSH researchers are partnering with the Centers for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (CBDRP) on one of the largest birth-defects prevention research efforts in the nation. NIOSH researchers hope to address some key questions:

  • Which workplace chemicals contribute to specific birth defects?
  • What level of chemical exposure contributes to birth defects?
  • When is chemical exposure likely to cause birth defects?
  • What workplace factors other than chemical exposure might be involved?

New Findings Support Changes to Firefighter Apparatus and Glove Design

When others rush out from burning buildings, firefighters go in to save lives. More knowledge and better resources can help keep firefighters safe. NIOSH contributes to firefighter safety by scientifically studying body measurements, which is known as “anthropometric research.” This research can be used when redesigning fire trucks and developing better-fitting personal protective equipment.

NIOSH researchers recently collected body dimension data on 951 U.S. firefighters to assess how well fire apparatus seat and seat belt designs accommodate current firefighters. This was the first national study of this type on firefighters. Findings may affect the design of fire apparatus, as well as fire apparatus standards. Three primary safety issues can involve fire apparatus:

Are Face Masks Safe During Pregnancy?

Worldwide, millions of pregnant women wear face coverings at work, including the widely used N95 respirator with filtering face pieces or masks. The N95 respirator restricts normal airflow, so a woman may have to breathe harder while wearing it. NIOSH researchers are working to answer an important question: Does an N95 filtering face piece put more physical stress on a pregnant woman who wears it?

NIOSH researchers studied whether pregnant women who wear an N95 respirator have different health effects than women who are not pregnant. Researchers took steps to ensure that the tests did not themselves create a risk for harm. They monitored 16 pregnant and 16 non-pregnant voluntary participants for heart rate, blood pressure, fetal heart rate, and other indicators of heart and lung function. The research included 1 hour of alternating sitting, standing, and moderate exercise on a stationary bicycle, both with and without a filtering facepiece respirator mask. All study participants were healthy non-smokers.

Biomarkers Could Clarify Chemical Exposure Levels

In the United States, about 82,000 chemicals are available to use, often in the workplace. Since little is known about the harmful effects of these chemicals—either alone, or combination—research is needed to determine safe chemical exposure levels for workers. Identifying early changes, or biomarkers, that occur in the body after exposure but before disease develops could help identify workers who are at risk.

In a new paper, NIOSH investigators review current studies of biomarkers of early effects in risk assessment. We asked co-author and NIOSH science officer Gayle DeBord to explain the findings.

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