martes, 22 de marzo de 2016

NIOSH Research Rounds March 2016

NIOSH Research Rounds March 2016

NIOSH Research Rounds

niosh logo
NIOSH Research Rounds is a monthly bulletin of selected research 
at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

In This Issue

Volume 1, Number 9 (March 2016)

New Technique Brings Silica Monitoring to the Mine

Silicosis is an irreversible, but preventable, occupational lung disease caused by exposure to respirable silica dust. At the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), investigators study how to prevent exposure to silica dust among miners and other workers. Recently, they developed a novel technique that makes it possible to measure silica dust quickly and easily at the mine site. We asked study lead author Emanuele Cauda, Ph.D., NIOSH senior service fellow, to explain the technique and its benefits.

Q: Why is early silica monitoring important?

A: Avoiding silica exposure is a special challenge for miners. To monitor that exposure and create the best control intervention, health and safety managers at mines periodically take dust samples to check for silica levels. They have a single, pressing question: “What are the silica concentrations in these samples?” Having a quick answer would allow mines to take immediate action to reduce high dust concentrations. Currently, however, mines must send the dust samples off for analysis and wait 1–3 weeks for the results. Also, the conditions and dust concentrations in mines are constantly changing, so by the time the results arrive, the mine might not be able to take effective action. We need a better way to protect miners’ health.

Draft Recommendations for Handling Silver Nanomaterials Undergo Public Comments

Engineered nanoparticles have unique size-driven properties that can affect their physical, chemical, and biological behavior. Because of the physical-chemical properties at the nanoscale, silver nanomaterials are being used in an increasing number of products. These products include consumer goods, such as electronics and textile coatings, and antibacterial items for medical use. With increased use, however, comes the possibility that growing numbers of workers may be exposed during the manufacture and use of the materials. In keeping with our leadership role in evaluating and assessing whether workers exposed to nanomaterials are at risk, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently evaluated the available literature on silver and nanosilver to determine if there is sufficient evidence for a size-specific recommended exposure limit (REL).

Published information on workers’ exposure to silver is limited but indicates that workplace airborne concentrations can exceed recommended limits without good risk management practices, such as using engineering controls. These limits include the current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) and the NIOSH REL of 10 µg/m3. Long-term exposures have been noted to cause localized and generalized argyria, which is an irreversible bluish-gray pigmentation of the skin. NIOSH also evaluated laboratory studies that demonstrated possible lung and liver effects, but these were of uncertain clinical significance when extrapolating study doses to humans.

High Smoking Rate Found Among Support Workers in Healthcare and Social Assistance Sector

Workers in support occupations in the healthcare and social assistance sector are significantly more likely to smoke cigarettes than are workers in all other occupations in that sector, according to a recent study by investigators at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These findings indicate that smoking-cessation programs in healthcare and social assistance could reach more at-risk workers by specifically targeting certain jobs. This sector comprises ambulatory health care services; hospitals; nursing and residential care facilities; and social assistance.

One of the main objectives of the national Healthy People 2020 program is to reduce cigarette smoking in the general population to 12% or less. For this study, investigators analyzed 2008 to 2012 data from the National Health Interview Survey and found that 16% of the approximately 19 million workers in healthcare and social assistance reported current cigarette smoking. The jobs with the highest smoking rates were record keeping, scheduling, dispatching, and distributing, with slightly more than one-third of workers reporting that they currently smoke. The second highest rates were among workers in nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides occupations, with just over one-fourth reporting that they currently smoke.

Extensive Evaluation and Review Lead to Updated Guidance Document on Working in Heat

In the 30 years since the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) made major recommendations to prevent work-related heat stress, recent events have raised questions about working safely in hot environments. For example, during the Deepwater Horizon response and cleanup of 2010, crews worked through the hot Gulf of Mexico summer. That event, and the evaluation of accumulated research and literature characterizing effects of working with heat stress, prompted NIOSH to revise its guidance document Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Heat and Hot Environments after an extensive scientific review. Although the recommended alert and exposure limits still protect workers in hot environments and remain unchanged, the revised document includes updated research findings, training, and intervention tools.

Working in hot environments—both outdoors and indoors—increases the risk of heat stress, which can cause injuries, disease, reduced productivity, and even death. To continue to protect workers from this serious work-related hazard, NIOSH investigators collaborated with other scientific experts, partners, and the public, through a request for comments and peer review, to revise the criteria document.

No hay comentarios: