NIOSH Needs to Move, AIHA Says

Where is the proper home for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health? The American Industrial Hygiene Associations (AIHA) feels this is an issue that must be addressed.

Recently, AIHA sent letters to several chairmen and vice chairmen of Senate and House committees and subcommittees with appropriations control and jurisdiction over NIOSH--including the Honorable Edward M. Kennedy, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee--to elicit their support for Congress to request a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study to collect the information necessary to determine whether NIOSH would be best suited in the Department of Labor (DOL), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), or maintain its current organizational structure within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One strong possibility is to move NIOSH to the Department of Labor (DOL) where it could more easily interact with OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, agencies that most directly receive advice and research from NIOSH.

In a recent press release, AIHA said it believes a better suggestion is to retain NIOSH within the Department of Health and Human Services but move it to NIH, the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting research that leads the way in improving people's health and saving lives.

Due to the increased national focus on public health requirements, AIHA feels that CDC may not have adequate resources to fulfill the expected challenges facing the country, as well as overseeing NIOSH and its research priorities. AIHA gave as an example the fact that NIOSH has had to find several million dollars from its existing budget each of the past three years to study the health and safety impacts of nanotechnology because no direct research funding has been appropriated. NIH already has 27 Institutes and Centers under its umbrella, and adding NIOSH, AIHA believes, would allow NIOSH research to take advantage of the many researchers used by NIH.

The full text of the AIHA letter is available at www.aiha.org under "Government Affairs." For more information, contact Aaron Trippler, AIHA director of government affairs, at (703) 846-0730 or atrippler@aiha.org.

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