Occupational health refers to the identification and control of the risks arising from physical, chemical, and other workplace hazards in order to establish and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. These hazards may include chemical agents and solvents, heavy metals such as lead and mercury, physical agents such as loud noise or vibration, and physical hazards such as electricity or dangerous machinery. Since 1986, the NIEHS has supported training and education programs designed to protect workers and their communities from exposure to toxic materials encountered during hazardous waste operations and chemical emergency response. This includes safety and health training for workers who are involved in hazardous waste removal and comprehensive training and environmental restoration for residents living near heavily polluted industrial waste sites.
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What is NIEHS Doing?
NIEHS Research Efforts
- 14th Report on Carcinogens - A congressionally mandated, science-based, public health document that NTP prepares for the HHS Secretary. This cumulative report currently includes 248 listings of agents, substances, mixtures, and exposure circumstances that are known or reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans.
- Applying 21st Century Toxicology to Green Chemical and Material Design - Speakers from a number of fields participated in discussions and presentations over the course of the 2011 two-day event on “Applying 21st Century Toxicology to Green Chemical and Material Design” in environmental health decisions. Here you can find the PowerPoint presentations from each talk.
- Asbestos Worker and Employer Guide to Hazards and Recommended Controls(1MB) - This guidance document contains recommendations as well as descriptions of OSHA safety and health standards. From the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force - Indoor Environmental Pollutants Work Group.
- Captafol Profile: Report on Carcinogens - U.S. workers previously were exposed to captafol during its production, formulation, or application to agricultural fields; on reentry to a sprayed field; or when working with treated timber products.
- Cobalt-Tungsten Carbide: Powders & Hard Metals Profile: Report on Carcinogens - Cobalt metal is produced as a by-product from ores associated with copper, nickel, zinc, lead, and platinum-group metals and is most often chemically combined in its ores with sulfur and arsenic.
- Gulf Oil Spill Response Efforts - NIEHS activated programs throughout the institute to provide timely and responsive services following the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill of 2010. NIEHS research efforts in this area continue.
- GuLF STUDY - The GuLF STUDY (Gulf Long-term Follow-up Study) is a health study for individuals who helped with the oil spill response and clean-up, took training, signed up to work, or were sent to the Gulf to help in some way after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is leading this research with the support of many local community groups. The study is funded by the Intramural Program of the NIEHS and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund.
- Hearing Protection(659KB) - The Hearing Protection manual presents training information and other important aspects of what you, as a Laborer, must know to protect yourself from loud and unnecessary noise on the job. It will instruct you in both technical and common-sense details of what you will encounter every day while working on the job site.
- Homeowner's and Renter's Guide to Asbestos Cleanup after Disasters(1MB)
- National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety & Health Training - A national resource for hazardous waste worker curricula, technical reports, and weekly news on hazardous materials, waste operations, and emergency response.
- Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) - PEPH is a network of scientists, community members, educators, healthcare providers, public health officials, and policymakers who share the goal of increasing the impact of environmental public health research at the local, regional, and national level.
- o-Nitrotolulene Profile: Report on Carcinogens - Exposure to o‑nitrotoluene in the United States is expected to result primarily from dermal and inhalation exposure during its production and use. The general population may be exposed to o‑nitrotoluene as a result of its occurrence in the environment from (1) inadvertent spills of o‑nitrotoluene or chemical mixtures containing o‑nitrotoluene, (2) emissions directly into the environment, or (3) breakdown products of dinitrotoluenes (DNT) and trinitrotoluenes (TNT). o‑Nitrotoluene has been detected in U.S. air and water.
- Oil Spills - NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) awardees have provided resources, trainers, and subject matter expertise during many oil spill response and related cleanup operations. The following resources provide health and safety information for workers involved in oil spill response and cleanup activities.
- Worker Training Program - The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) awards grants to train workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste generation, removal, containment, transportation, and emergency response
Stories from the Environmental Factor (NIEHS Newsletter)
- Chronic kidney disease in agricultural workers tackled at workshop (August 2018)
- Occupational health insights into environmental exposures (March 2015)
- New study reviews needs for research on health effects of fracking (September 2014)
- Miller delivers keynote at international conference on occupational health (October 2013)
- N.C. industrial livestock workers found to carry drug-resistant bacteria (September 2013)
- Migrant Farmworker Housing Fails to Provide Relief from Heat (August 2013)
- Mobile technologies poised to aid training and emergency response (November 2012)
- WETP promotes logic model concept for training assessment (November 2012)
- Study finds that dad’s job can influence birth defects (October 2012)
- Study Finds a Possible Biomarker of Occupational Exposure in Firefighters (September 2012)
Printable Fact Sheets
- Certain Glass Wool Fibers (Inhalable)(888KB)
- Environmental Diseases: Environmental Diseases From A to Z (English)(4MB)
- Risk: Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms - Designed to help learners at any level better understand genetic terms.
- Talking to Your Doctor - Resources from NIH - You can play an active role in your health care by talking to your doctor. Clear and honest communication between you and your physician can help you both make smart choices about your health.
Related Health Topics
- Hearing and Sound Videos - Videos from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.