Two Washington Faculty Appointed to New NORA Cross-Sector Council

The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is entering its third decade with seven new cross-sector councils to address industry-wide problems and promote improved practices in the workplace. The Immune, Infectious and Dermal Disease Prevention Cross-Sector Council will convene for the first time in January 2017. Two faculty from the University of Washington School of Public Health were appointed to serve on this new council.

The new cross-sector council will address all-too-common health effects from the workplace: immune, infectious and skin-related diseases. These are found in all industries, and particularly in the services, healthcare, agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Diseases range from allergic contact dermatitis to asthma, and include a number of adverse conditions stemming from skin exposure to biological agents and to chemicals.

Among the members of the new council are two internationally recognized researchers.

John Kissel, an emeritus professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, is an environmental engineer whose research focuses on human exposure to environmental contaminants, particularly through dermal exposure and absorption. His research is cited extensively in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Exposure Factors Handbook, which is used to assess and guide hazardous site clean up all over the country. His studies have resulted in improved assessments of risk from exposure to contaminants through the skin.

Scott Meschke, a professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, is an environmental and occupational health microbiologist who specializes in identifying exposure to and control of pathogens. He has developed new methods to understand the risk of pathogens from bioaerosols and refined older methods to improve detection of pathogens and infection control in a range of industries, including fire stations, clinics, and swine confined animal feeding operations.

Council members work together for the next decade to determine the national priorities for research on workplace conditions and practices that lead to injury and illness. The goal is to improve job safety and health.