airway-disease-specific respirator policy was included in the evidence package, although examples of RDRP work on improvements in the fit and availability of personal respirators were documented. A NIOSH report in the peer-reviewed literature that supported the use of respirators in emergency response situations that involve irritant dust exposures (e.g., the WTC disaster) is an example of how the agency can highlight the importance of effective respirator policy in preventing work-related airway disease (Feldman et al. 2004). Given the need for respirators in such situations as well as for their possible use against other agents, the development of policies related to respirator use is a continuing issue. A separate National Research Council committee is reviewing NIOSH’s personal protective technology research program; therefore, recommendations on this topic will be addressed by that committee and are not discussed in Chapter 4.
As noted earlier in this report, the formal RDRP is a recent creation organized during the NORA2 process. Given that the NORA2 process emphasized sector-based as opposed to disease-based research, an emerging issue is how research priorities for respiratory diseases that cut across sectors will be treated. Further, although the focus of respiratory disease research remains within NIOSH’s Division of Respiratory Studies, the RDRP encompasses many divisions and laboratories across NIOSH. For researchers who are part of the RDRP but outside the Division of Respiratory Studies, an issue will be how well their activities can be coordinated and prioritized within the RDRP. Further, the new RDRP is faced with the need for systems to govern the awarding of extramural grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements and integrating the results of this external research into the intramural program.