NIOSH Seeks Comments on Revised Draft of Asbestos 'Roadmap'

On June 30, NIOSH issued for public comment a revised draft strategic research document, "Asbestos Fibers and Other Elongated Mineral Particles: State of the Science and Roadmap for Research." The revised draft incorporates public comments and peer review comments on the initial version of the draft scientific document, which was issued for open review in 2007. The revised draft--along with the rest of a complete package that includes the original draft, presentations at a 2007 public meeting, public comments to the docket, peer reviewer comments, and responses to peer reviewer comments--is available at www.cdc.gov/niosh/review/public/099-A/.

The document is intended to address scientific uncertainties about occupational exposure and toxicity issues related to asbestos fibers and other elongated mineral particles; identify needs and opportunities for research to resolve those uncertainties; and stimulate such research, providing a sound scientific foundation for future policy developments. It does not contain any new recommendations for exposure limits or other policy issues. NIOSH said it will incorporate public comments on the revised draft into a final document that will inform national research. Once the final draft document is prepared, NIOSH plans to seek independent scientific review through the National Academies, in line with NIOSH's policy on making its research transparent to stakeholders and the public.

"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," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "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."

With the revised draft, NIOSH seeks comment in particular on changes that were prompted by public comment and peer review on the original draft. These include:

  • Discussion of particle characteristics and their potential influence on biological responses.
  • Toxicological research on elongated mineral particles.
  • Epidemiological studies of workers exposed to elongated mineral particles.
  • Capabilities and limitations of instrumentation used to identify elongated mineral particles.
  • Clarification of the current NIOSH recommended exposure limit for "airborne asbestos fibers," asbestos and renaming it "asbestos fibers and related elongated mineral particles."
  • Inclusion of discussion on how the proposed research could lead to development of improved public policies.
  • Discussion of clinical issues and recommendations for clinical research.

The draft document requests that comments be sent by Sept. 30 to NIOSH by e-mail through a link at the Web page shown above; by fax to the NIOSH Docket Office at (513) 533-8285; or by mail to NIOSH Mailstop: C-34, Robert A. Taft Laboratory, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226.

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