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Final Progress Reports: Harvard School of Public Health: Safety and Health Management of Hazards Associated with Emerging Technologies

Superfund Research Program

Safety and Health Management of Hazards Associated with Emerging Technologies

Project Leader: Gary Adamkiewicz
Grant Number: R25ES023635
Funding Period: 2013-2022
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Final Progress Reports

Year:   2015 

Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), with Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (TUSPHTM) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have been developing new courses on Workplace Environmental Controls and Management Practices for Hazards in New and Emerging Technologies for their Master’s degree curriculum. A new 5-credit course on engineering control technologies represents a significant improvement over other courses that were offered in the past, as it includes training in the core skills and competencies from previous courses, but also contains new material that emphasizes engineering control for emerging technologies such as nanoparticle manufacturing, pharmaceutical handling, and biohazards. In addition, this new course includes respiratory protection, chemical protective clothing, and control of heat stress and biohazards that were not addressed in the previous courses. They have also moved forward on their plans for a new course titled Occupational Health and Safety Management Practices for New and Emerging Technologies. The course objectives are to develop critical management skills and knowledge needed by Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) professionals to initiate and manage change in organizations and to implement effective solutions to challenges. This course will be based upon case studies and will be taught in an interactive manner in small teams (4-6 students each) using these case studies to provide focused development of the students’ understanding. The new course will be offered in Spring semester 2016.

They are also developing a new course on High Performance Buildings for Health, Comfort and Sustainability. Currently, there are no courses offered at HSPH, MIT, or TUSPHTM that focus exclusively on emerging technologies in building design and performance, and their influence on health. However, people spend 90% of their time indoors, and indoor pollutants concentrations can exceed outdoor pollutant concentrations by a factor of 10. This course will address this through a blended distance learning and field-based course on emerging technologies in green buildings and their impact on human health.

In the second year of the grant, the team expanded their involvement of student trainees. Four student projects were conducted that addressed hazards associated with new and emerging technologies:

  1. A project by Emily Eshleman - Occupational Exposures to PM 2.5 and Ultrafine Particles from Laser Hair Removal Procedures Performed in a Clinical Dermatology Laser Center - found that there are significantly elevated levels of ultrafine particles (<100nm average diameter) in the procedure room during and after the hair removal procedure has ended, even with the use of smoke evacuators.
  2. A project by Mallory LeBlanc - Diacetyl, a Flavoring Chemical Associated with “Popcorn Lung”, is in many flavored E-cigarettes - found a variety of VOCs including diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, and acetoin in the air stream released from E-cigarettes (submitted to EHP).
  3. A project by Justine Dupaul - Ergonomic Lab Assessments at Boston Children’s Hospital -investigated hazards associated with new clinical laboratory procedures.
  4. A project by Chrisy Chantarasopak - Evaluation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Ultrafine Particles Associated with 3- Dimensional Printing Operations - found significantly higher concentrations (compared to room background) of ultrafine and fine particles, and VOCs associated with all four types of 3D printers tested. The results were presented as a student poster session at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition where the poster received 4 awards, including 2nd place for best conference poster.

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