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March 16, 2018

NIOSH Draft NORA for Respiratory Health Recommends Preventing Dust-Induced Lung Diseases, Including Those Associated with Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On March 15, 2018, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced the availability of the draft National Occupational Research Agenda for Respiratory Health for public comment.  The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) is a partnership program created to stimulate innovative research and improved workplace practices.  The draft NORA for Respiratory Health is the first NORA to address respiratory health, and it is intended to identify the research, information, and actions most needed to prevent occupational injuries.  The objectives include preventing and reducing work-related interstitial/dust-induced lung diseases.  This will be achieved in part by preventing and reducing coal workers’ pneumoconiosis “and other dust-induced lung diseases, including those associated with nanomaterials.”  The draft NORA states:  “Nanomaterials, defined as having a length scale between one and 100 nanometers, exhibit unique properties that affect physical, chemical, and biological behavior.  Animal and other toxicological studies have shown adverse lung effects include inflammation and fibrosis (Maynard & Kuempel, 2005).”  According to the draft NORA, since there is no known effective treatment for any of the pneumoconioses, “primary prevention to control workplace fibrogenic dust exposures, medical surveillance for early disease detection, and other interventions from across the hierarchy of controls are essential.”  Comments on the draft NORA for Respiratory Health are due May 14, 2018.