workplaces such as autobody and mechanical shops that use techniques
ranging from traditional automotive painting to high-tech emissions
tests, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
(NIOSH) is pursuing studies that will lead to key strides against
The efforts are part of a new NIOSH research program called
ROAR (Research on Occupational Asthma Reduction). This program
will enable NIOSH to better recognize, evaluate, control, and
monitor work-related risk factors that can cause or intensify
"Although work-related asthma is the most frequently recognized
occupational illness, there is much about it that science doesn’t
know, and those gaps in knowledge make it difficult to develop,
institute, and validate effective preventive measures,"
NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., said. "By planning strategically
and partnering with diverse groups, we are working to close
those gaps and to reduce potential risks in industrial and non-industrial
workplaces alike." (Quote taken
from the NIOSH webpage)
The ROAR program is focusing on three areas that will help determine
how often, and severe occupational asthma occurs. These areas
the severity, or violence of workplace asthma. In a
large percent of reported cases, individuals' occupational asthma
is not a new condition created by workplace factors. Rather,
it involves a pre-existing condition that intensifies by circumstances
on the job. Scientists are asking key questions about such cases:
prevalent is workplace asthma?
circumstances in the workplace are associated with it?
accurate is the system for self-reporting of cases?
Under a contract
with a health maintenance organization, NIOSH will identify
and survey adults who have reported they have asthma. NIOSH
will follow up to validate those self-reports through objective
testing and will investigate whether the workplace contributes
to the progression or worsening of the disease in individuals.
These results will help guide efforts to better detect cases
of occupational asthma, identify employee populations at potential
risk, and measure the costs associated with the illness.
(back to the top)
asthma in the non-industrial work environment. NIOSH
is investigating problem buildings identified through the Institute's
Health Hazard Evaluation Program to identify risk factors for
occupational asthma in nonindustrial work settings. NIOSH plans
on developing guides of exposure that can be used to determine
if a given indoor work environment poses the risk of job-related
asthma. The research also will help NIOSH develop new environmental
sampling methods and new medical monitoring methods to better
identify workplaces and employee populations at potential risk.
Advancing medical monitoring for workers exposed to diisocyanates.
Under a new agreement, NIOSH is working with companies and employees
in the industry to evaluate current medical monitoring for persons
occupationally exposed to diisocyanates. The study will yield
new findings on the effectiveness of current monitoring procedures
and methods, which in turn will be used for designing and testing
a model screening and medical surveillance program for detecting
occupational asthma associated with diisocyanate exposures.
The ROAR program is part of NIOSH's research under the National
Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), which identifies occupational
asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as one
of 21 priority areas where new research will do the most to prevent
job-related illnesses and injuries. For further information on
NORA goals, accomplishments, and partnerships to prevent work-related
asthma and COPD, visit the NIOSH website at Asthma
and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
On October 30, 2002, S/P2 wrote an article titled “Isocyanates
- The silent killer”. This S/P2 article gave you an understanding
of the dangers of Isocyanates; ideas on how to avoid personal
injury due to misuse of Isocyanates; and quick tips to protect
you and your coworkers from Isocyanates. As a reminder, Isocyanates
are referred to as Diisocyanates. To familiarize yourself with
Isocyanates, please reread “Isocyanates
- The silent killer”.