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Note: NIOSH has engaged The National Academies' Institute of Medicine to review the draft NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin: "Asbestos Fibers and other Elongated Mineral Particles: State of the Science and Roadmap for Research." The January 2009 version of the draft Current Intelligence Bulletin which will be reviewed by the National Academies can be found on the NIOSH website at: Public comments on the June 2008 version and NIOSH’s responses to the public comments can be found on the NIOSH website at: The purpose of the National Academies review is to assess the technical quality of the draft document, its scope and the methods used to produce its findings. The National Academies will also assess the likelihood that the framework of research envisioned in the draft document will address the most significant scientific issues in the areas of toxicity, occupational exposures, epidemiology, and sampling/analytical methods. It is anticipated that the review will be completed fall, 2009.

The National Academies has established a page on its web site where it will post information about this study: Interested NIOSH stakeholders are invited to visit this site to learn the committee's meeting schedule and the names of the provisional committee of experts who will undertake the review. Comments about the committee may be submitted to the National Academies through that site. The first meeting of the committee will be held on January 15 and 16, 2009, in Washington, DC. Portions of the January 15 session will be open to the public. We encourage stakeholders to become acquainted with the review and take advantage of those opportunities provided by the National Academies to participate in the review process.

asbestos or related substance is coated by an iron-protein complex and surrounded by macrophages
Histopathology of lung showing ferruginous body. A fiber of asbestos or related substance is coated by an iron-protein complex and surrounded by macrophages.

“Asbestos” is a generic name given to a fibrous variety of six naturally occurring minerals that have been used for decades in thousands of commercial products. The term “asbestos” is not a mineralogical definition but a commercial name given to a group of minerals that possess high tensile strength, flexibility, resistance to chemical and thermal degradation, and electrical resistance. These minerals have been used in many products, including insulation and fireproofing materials, automotive brakes and textile products, and cement and wallboard materials.

The asbestos minerals have a tendency to separate into microscopic-size particles that can remain in the air and are easily inhaled. Persons occupationally exposed to asbestos have developed several types of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer. Although the use of asbestos and asbestos products has dramatically decreased, they are still found in many residential and commercial settings and continue to pose a health risk to workers and others.


NIOSHTIC-2 Search Results on Asbestos
NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.

Recommendations for Preventing Occupational Exposure to Asbestos

Draft Document for Public Review and Comment: Asbestos and Other Mineral Fibers: A Roadmap for Scientific Research
NIOSH Docket Number NIOSH-099, February 2007
This document is intended as one step in the process. NIOSH intends to pursue partnerships with other federal agencies and stakeholders to help focus the scope of the research that can contribute to the scientific understanding of asbestos and other mineral fibers, to fund and conduct the research activities, and to develop and disseminate educational materials describing results from the mineral fiber research and their implications for occupational and public health policies and practices.

NIOSH Recommendations for Limiting Potential Exposures of Workers to Asbestos Associated with Vermiculite from Libby, Montana
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2003-141 (2003)
Fact Sheet describes Vermiculite and Asbestos, and provides recommendations to prevent occupational exposures.

Asbestos Bibliography (Revised)
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-162 (1997)
Compendium of NIOSH research and recommendations on asbestos. It updates and supersedes the NIOSH document Asbestos Publications from June 1992.

Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards
Guidelines summarize pertinent information about chemical hazards for workers, employers, and occupational safety and health professionals.

  • Asbestos
    this document in PDF PDF only 304 KB (6 pages) 

Specific Medical Tests Published in the Literature for OSHA Regulated Substances: Asbestos
Database lists the specific medical tests published in the literature for OSHA regulated substances. Updates of OSHA mandated tests (July 1, 2000) and NIOSH/OSHA recommendations are included.

Control of Asbestos Exposure During Brake Drum Service
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 89-121 (1989)
Presents recommendations for engineering controls and work practices to reduce exposure to asbestos during brake maintenance operations, more...

Workplace Exposure to Asbestos: Review and Recommendations: NIOSH/OSHA Asbestos Work Group Recommendations
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 81-103 (1980)
this document in PDF PDF only 2285 KB (41 pages)
Includes information about sampling and analysis of airborne asbestos, biologic effects of exposure, recommended occupational standards, more...

Current Intelligence Bulletin #31 – Adverse Health Effects of Smoking and the Occupational Environment
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No 79-122 (1979)
Identifies six ways in which smoking can interact with workplace exposures, including asbestos.

Revised Recommended Asbestos Standard
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 77-169 (1976)
Review of information on the health effects of exposure to asbestos.

Criteria for a Recommended Standard – Occupational Exposure to Asbestos
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 72-10267 (1972)
Presents the criteria and standards for preventing occupational diseases arising from exposure to asbestos dust.

Asbestos Abatement

An Evaluation of Glove Bag Containment in Asbestos Removal
NIOSH Publication No. 90-119 (1990)
Examines the effectiveness of the glove bag control method to prevent asbestos emissions during the removal of asbestos-containing pipe lagging.

B-Reader Program

NIOSH B-Reader Program
NIOSH B-Reader approval is granted to physicians who demonstrate proficiency in the classification of chest x-rays for the pneumoconioses using the International Labour Office (ILO) Classification System.

Conference Proceedings

Proceedings of the VIIth International Pneumoconioses Conference Part I
NIOSH Publication No. 90-108 Part I (1990)

Proceedings of the VIIth International Pneumoconioses Conference Part II
NIOSH Publication No. 90-108 Part II (1990)

Home Contamination

Protecting Workers' Families: A Research Agenda: Report of the Workers' Family Protection Task Force
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-113 (2002)
Represents the Task Force's commentary on the 1995 NIOSH Workers' Home Contamination Study report, identifies gaps in the current knowledge about take-home exposures and related health effects, and provides a prioritized agenda for Federally sponsored research.

Protect Your Family: Reduce Contamination at Home
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-125 (1997)
This report summarizes a NIOSH conducted a study of contamination of workers' homes by hazardous substances transported from the workplace.

Report to Congress on Workers' Home Contamination Study Conducted Under the Workers' Family Protection Act (29 U.S.C. 671A)
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 95-123 (September 1995)—Summary 
This report to Congress and the Workers' Family Protection Task Force summarizes incidents of home contamination, including the health consequences, sources, and levels of contamination.

Sampling and Analysis

NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM), 4th edition
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-113 (1994)
NMAM is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed. These methods have been developed or adapted by NIOSH or its partners and have been evaluated according to established experimental protocols and performance criteria. NMAM also includes chapters on quality assurance, sampling, portable instrumentation, etc.

  • Method #7400 - Asbestos and Other Fibers by PCM
    this document in PDF PDF only   140 KB (15 pages)  
  • Method #7402 - Asbestos by TEM
    this document in PDF PDF only   37 KB (7 pages)  
  • Method #9000 - Asbestos, Chrysotile by XRD
    this document in PDF PDF only   42 KB (6 pages)  
  • Method #9002 - Asbestos (bulk) by PLM
    this document in PDF PDF only   175 KB (9 pages)  

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-140
Exposure limits, Respirator Recommendations, First Aid, more...
The Pocket Guide is a source of general industrial hygiene information on several hundred chemicals/classes found in the work environment. Key data provided for each chemical/substance includes name (including synonyms/trade names), structure/formula, CAS/RTECS Numbers, DOT ID, conversion factors, exposure limits, IDLH, chemical and physical properties, measurement methods, personal protection, respirator recommendations, symptoms, and first aid.

Worker Notification Program

Through the NIOSH Worker Notification Program, NIOSH notifies workers and other stakeholders about the findings of past research studies related to a wide variety of exposures. The link below presents archival materials sent to participants in a study at an asbestos textile, friction, and packing plant who were exposed to asbestos.


Occupational Respiratory Disease Surveillance (ORDS)
NIOSH Topic Page about occupational respiratory disease medical screening and monitoring.

Atlas of Respiratory Disease Mortality, United States: 1982-1993
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 98-157 (1998)
This report presents maps showing geographic distributions (by health service area) of mortality associated with selected respiratory conditions that together represent nearly all respiratory diseases. For categories of traditional occupational lung diseases mapped in this atlas (i.e., the pneumoconioses, including coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, asbestosis, silicosis, byssinosis, and other and unspecified pneumoconioses), nearly all cases are attributable to hazardous occupational exposure.

Worker Health Chartbook, 2000
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2000-127 (2000)
The Worker Health Chartbook presents data and charts that characterize types of injuries and illnesses by gender, race, industry, and occupation. In May 2002, sections of the Chartbook were re-packaged in booklets highlighting fatal and nonfatal illnesses and injuries as well as a focus on mining.

Work Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report 2002
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-111 (2002)
The sixth of a series, the Work-Related Lung Disease (WoRLD) Surveillance Report 2002 provides information on various work-related respiratory diseases and associated exposures in the United States. The WoRLD Surveillance Report 2002 describes where these diseases are occurring (by industry and geographic location), who is affected (by race, gender, age, and occupation), how frequently they occur, and temporal trends.

Work Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report 1999
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2000-105 (1999)
This surveillance report presents summary tables and figures of occupational respiratory disease surveillance data focusing on various occupationally-relevant respiratory diseases, including pneumoconioses, occupational asthma and other airway diseases, and several other respiratory conditions. For many of these diseases, selected data on related exposures are also presented.

Work Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report 1996
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-134 (1996)
This 1996 surveillance report provides national and state-specific summaries of occupational respiratory disease surveillance data focusing on pneumoconiosis mortality. Selected occupational respiratory hazard sampling data relevant to pneumoconiosis are also presented.

Work Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report 1994
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-120 (1994)
The 1994 Work-Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report (WoRLD) provides a summary of surveillance data for various occupational respiratory diseases from a variety of sources. The majority of the data in this report is for the time period 1968-1990.

Work Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report Supplement 1992
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 91-113s (1992)
Supplement to the first Work Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report (WoRLD) which presents updated data and data which was previously unpresented including sex, race, geographic distribution, industry and occupation; number of discharges with silicosis or asbestosis from the National Hospital Discharge Survey; and reports of occupational asthma and silicosis from the SENSOR program.

Work Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 91-113 (1991)
First of a series, this report represents a summary of data for various occupational respiratory diseases divided into figures and tables.


Asbestos fibers, workers in protective coveralls, respiratory protection, and gloves cleaning up asbestos

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Page last updated: January 14, 2008
Page last reviewed: October 8, 2008
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Education and Information Division