NIOSH and Mesothelioma

History of NIOSH and Mesothelioma

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is a branch of the Department of Labor and is responsible for researching and preventing work-related injuries and illnesses.  NIOSH works closely with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to assure safe and healthful working conditions for non-governmental workers through scientific research, industry regulations, and educational programs.  NIOSH was created in 1970 by an act of Congress, the same act that created OSHA. 

Mesothelioma Health Dangers

The dangers presented by asbestos fibers have been understood, to some degree, for over 2000 years.  Asbestos ? a naturally occurring, fire-resistant fiber ? can be very toxic when inhaled or swallowed by humans.  The human body does not have the ability to break down the fibers once they are situated inside the body.  As a result, health complications from asbestos exposure often materialize decades later.  Complications can include asbestosis, lung cancer, and Mesothelioma.

NIOSH has been instrumental in researching the detrimental health effects of asbestos exposure.  In 1974, the R.T. Vanderbilt Company asked OSHA to interpret regulations in a manner that would exclude anthophyllite and tremolite (two highly toxic forms of amphibole asbestos) from standards promulgated by OSHA in 1972.  While OSHA initially structured their interpretation permissively, preliminary findings by NIOSH regarding medical evaluations of workers exposed to tremolitic talc persuaded OSHA to broaden the definition of asbestos in the provision in question to include all forms for tremolite fibers.

NIOSH Mesothelioma Research Today

Today NIOSH is responsible for a wide array of scientific research on mesothelioma, asbestos exposure prevention, and asbestos abatement procedures.  They also provide helpful information regarding safe handling of mesothelioma-linked materials, workplace guidelines, and regulatory recommendations.  For example: