The Health Hazard Evaluation Program at NIOSH (2009)DELS
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Exposure to chemical or physical hazards in the workplace can lead to illness, injury, or even death. For many hazards, there are no standards to protect worker health, or existing standards may be obsolete. The mission of the Health Hazard Evaluation Program within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is to respond to requests to investigate suspected new occupational health hazards or known hazards that occur in new occupational settings. The program has been instrumental in identifying a wide array of hazards such as potentially fatal latex allergies associated with latex glove use in medical facilities, and the well publicized link between the use of a butter flavoring in popcorn plants and a disease that became known as "popcorn lung." This report evaluates the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Program for its relevance and impact in identifying and responding to occupational health hazards. The report finds that the program has had a positive impact on workforce conditions, responds well during public health emergencies, and offers excellent training programs for occupational health professionals. The program could be further strengthened by increasing its visibility, by expanding communication and outreach activities, and by expanding its training programs. This report is part of a series of reviews of NIOSH programs by the National Research Council.