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NEWS
Dust Control Research Leads To Grant
December 3, 2009


Deborah Young-Corbett, a member of Virginia Tech's School of Construction and the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is the principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health Research Project Grant (RO1), valued at more than a half a million dollars, as a follow-on to her previous work in health hazards in the construction industry. Virginia Tech Photo.

In the construction industry, respiratory disease, often leading to disability or an increased risk of cancer, is a major public health concern. Studies led by Deborah Young-Corbett, a faculty member in Virginia Tech’s School of Construction, have shown that specific types of sanding tools are highly effective in reducing the dust that causes these health hazards, yet the industry’s usage of the available technology remains very low.

To find out why, Prof. Young-Corbett conducted follow-up studies with construction firm owners and workers, and identified a number of barriers to the adoption of technology that lead to healthier environments. She said they related to productivity, work quality, and perceptions of benefits and risks.

One of her colleagues, Theodore Koebel of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech has also conducted work in this area and has identified a number of strategies to encourage the construction industry to adopt the new technologies.

The two have now teamed on a new proposal to build upon this original work, and to improve the adoption of engineering controls in the construction industry to improve the health of the workers. Joining them is Enid Headen Montague, a member of the industrial engineering department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Under a Research-to-Practice (R2P) project, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has agreed to fund the next phase of this work.


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