Watchdog Institute Calls for Comments on Asbestos Research Plans

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is seeking comment from the public on a revision of their draft strategic plan for asbestos research. The draft is entitled “Asbestos Fibers and Other Elongated Mineral Particles: State of the Science and Roadmap for Research” and has been open for public and peer-reviewed comment since 2007. The document is the strategic roadmap for NIOSH’s research plan in years to come. It addresses the current state of science regarding occupational exposure to asbestos , the toxicity of asbestos and asbestos-like particle exposure in humans, potentially fruitful research areas for further work, and the establishment of a solid scientific foundation to guide public policy on asbestos and related issues.

The final document will include public commentary, and will then be submitted to the National Academies for scientific peer review of the entire document and plan. NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., expressed support for the public comment effort, saying that “We appreciate the participation and assistance of our diverse stakeholders in this effort to move the state of scientific knowledge about the health effects of asbestos fibers and other elongated mineral particles into the 21st Century. Achieving agreement on needed research is an important step in answering questions that need to be answered for protecting workers’ health. After decades, these uncertainties continue to consume time, concern, and resources for the whole range of parties who have a stake in asbestos health issues.” NIOSH is specifically asking for more comment in the areas of particle characteristics and how that can affect biological response, the state of toxicology research on asbestos and asbestos-like particles, epidemiological work on people exposed to such particles, advances in the medical and scientific instrumentation, discussion of exposure limits, and public policies concerning asbestos and similar materials. Comments will be accepted through September 30, 2008. Comments can be faxed to the NIOSH Docket Office at (513) 533-8285 or mailed to NIOSH Mailstop: C-34, Robert A. Taft Laboratory, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226.