The Monthly Newsletter of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Volume 18 Number 11, March 2021

From the Director's Desk
John Howard, M.D., Director, NIOSH

Advancements in Elastomeric Technology for Source Control
During the past year, we have seen the need emerge for respirators that are both reliable personal protective equipment (PPE) and also offer source control. This means that respirators must be able to protect others by filtering the wearer’s exhaled air that may contain harmful viruses or bacteria.

Facing a shortage of single-use, disposable filtering facepiece respirators (FFR), U.S. healthcare systems are incorporating the use of elastomeric half mask respirators (EHMR) because they can be cleaned, disinfected, and reused. However, elastomeric respirators typically have exhalation valves for user comfort, raising concerns about source control.

collage of tech images overlay on busy street

NIOSH prototype design of an EHMR with exhalation valves that filter exhaled breath. Photo by NIOSH

Understanding the need for elastomeric respirators to supplement the respirator supply in all healthcare settings, NIOSH has been working with manufacturers of these devices to approve new options that will both protect healthcare workers and act as reliable source control.

Research Rounds

For the NIOSH 50th Anniversary, please enjoy this limited time series of “NIOSH Now” and “NIOSH Then” where we look back at research efforts inside and outside of NIOSH from the past 50 years.

Masks Block More Cough Aerosol Particles than Face Shields 
CDC recommends wearing face masks in all public settings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. NIOSH recently tested face masks, neck gaiters, and face shields to see how well they block the small aerosol particles produced by people when they cough. We asked lead author William Lindsley, NIOSH biomedical research engineer, to explain the study, published in the journal Aerosol Science and Technology.

What do we know about the efficacy of different types of face coverings?
We tested how well face coverings stopped cough aerosols from being expelled into the air (called source control). We used a device that simulates coughs to propel small aerosol particles through different face coverings placed on a manikin head. We did not test these devices as personal protective equipment to prevent aerosols in the environment from being inhaled by the wearer.

Ongoing Study Furthers Understanding of Lung Disease in Textile Workers 
In 1988, NIOSH began funding what would be the longest-running and largest study of lung disease in textile workers. Today, this ongoing study at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which started the study in 1981, has furthered our understanding of lung disease in textile workers.

For over three decades, researchers evaluated Chinese textile workers’ exposure to endotoxin, a dangerous substance released from bacterial cells and cotton dust. After exposure to the substances ended, the researchers found that lung damage reversed. This study originally included 919 Shanghai residents exposed to high levels of cotton dust and endotoxin while employed as cotton workers. Most were nonsmokers and participated in the entire study, many having retired by the end of the 30 years. In 2016, researchers collected follow-up information, using company and union healthcare records for retirees, along with death records for about 25% of participants.


New Webpage Highlights NIOSH 50th Anniversary Info!

This year marks the 50th anniversary of NIOSH! NIOSH will be recognizing this important milestone through various channels throughout the year and posting links to them on the NIOSH 50th Anniversary webpage. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and visit the new webpage to stay up to date on NIOSH 50th activities.

NIOSH 50's logo

Needlestick Injuries are Preventable  

Healthcare personnel who use or may be exposed to needles are at increased risk of needlestick injury. Needlestick injuries can lead to serious or fatal infections with bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, or HIV. Learn more about how to protect yourself and your coworkers from needlestick injuries. Learn more

NIOSH Partners with NSF for Second Year to Fund Workplace Robotics Research

NIOSH has partnered with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to make funding available to study the integration of robotics technologies in the workplace. simulation to evaluate potential hazards to humans in a virtual environment. Those interested in applying for funding can view the funding opportunity on the NSF website. The deadline to apply is May 3, at 5:00 p.m. in the submitter’s local time zone. Learn more.


NIOSH + Safe-In-Sound Award Winner!
NIOSH, in coordination with the Safe-In-Sound award committee, is proud to announce the winner of the 2021 Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention award to Vertical Lift, AH-64 Apache Helicopter of the Boeing Company! Their “Hush Kit” innovation drops the noise level of the helicopter to safer levels for workers when work is being performed. For more information about the Safe-in-Sound awards please contact Thais Morata.

Join Us to Help Prevent Struck-by Incidents  

The second annual National Stand-Down to Prevent Struck-by Incidents in Construction is planned for April 26. The event coincides with National Work Zone Awareness Week, which is April 26–30. The Stand-Down asks contractors to pause work to recognize that struck-by incidents are the #1 cause of injuries and the #2 cause of death among construction workers. Contractors are encouraged to educate their crews about risks and prevention. All national events will be held virtually for easier access.

Create a Sphere of Safety Prevent Struk by Incidents

Survey Helps to Identify Common Root Causes of Falls From Heights
NIOSH and partners recently released the Fall Experience Survey. Falls continue to be the leading cause of death in the construction industry. This survey aims to fill in gaps in information on the common root causes of falls from heights. Please take the survey if you have experienced, witnessed, or investigated a fall incident. The results will guide new material development supporting the National Campaign & Annual Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Watch this video for more information.

Monthly Features

This monthly e-newsletter is published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to inform members of the occupational safety and health community, including partners, employers, workers, and other stakeholders, of NIOSH-related news, new publications, and updates on programs, research, and initiatives.

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