About Publications

Publications from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provide objective and straightforward advice to decision makers and the public. This site includes Health and Medicine Division (HMD) publications released after 1998. A complete list of HMD’s publications from its establishment in 1970 to the present is available as a PDF.


  • Breast Cancer and the Environment: A Life Course Approach ... Released: December 07, 2011
    More than 230,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2011. The IOM was asked to review the current evidence on breast cancer and the environment, review challenges in studying this topic, explore evidence-based actions that women might take to reduce their risk, and recommend future research. Overall, it finds that major advances have been made in understanding breast cancer and its risk factors, but more needs to be learned about its causes, how environmental exposures affect risk for the disease, and how to prevent it.
  • Long-Term Health Consequences of Exposure to Burn Pits in ... Released: October 31, 2011
    Many veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have health problems they believe are related to their exposure to the smoke from the burning of waste in open-air “burn pits” on military bases. Particular controversy surrounds the burn pit used to dispose of solid waste at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, which burned up to 200 tons of waste per day in 2007. The Department of Veterans Affairs asked the IOM to form a committee to determine the long-term health effects from exposure to these burn pits. Insufficient evidence prevented the IOM committee from developing firm conclusions. This report, therefore, recommends that, along with more efficient data-gathering methods, a study be conducted that would evaluate the health status of service members from their time of deployment over many years to determine their incidence of chronic diseases.
  • Incorporating Occupational Information in Electronic Health ... Released: September 30, 2011
    Each year in the United States, more than 4,000 occupational fatalities and more than 3 million occupational injuries occur along with more than 160,000 cases of occupational illnesses. Incorporating patients’ occupational information into electronic health records (EHRs) could lead to more informed clinical diagnosis and treatment plans as well as more effective policies, interventions, and prevention strategies to improve the overall health of the working population. At the request of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the IOM appointed a committee to examine the rationale and feasibility of incorporating occupational information in patients’ EHRs. The IOM concluded that three data elements – occupation, industry, and work-relatedness – were ready for immediate focus, and made recommendations on moving forward efforts to incorporate these elements into EHRs.
  • Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2010 : Health and ... Released: September 29, 2011
    Because of continuing uncertainty about the long-term health effects of the sprayed herbicides on Vietnam veterans, Congress passed the Agent Orange Act of 1991. The legislation directed the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to request the IOM to perform a comprehensive evaluation of scientific and medical information regarding the health effects of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam to be followed by biennial updates. The 2010 update recommends further research of links between Vietnam service and specific health outcomes, most importantly COPD, tonsil cancer, melanoma, brain cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and paternally transmitted effects to offspring. The only modification made in this update to disease entries in the categories of association is the notation that early-onset peripheral neuropathy (a condition which has been recognized since Update 1996 as having limited or suggestive evidence of an association with herbicide exposure and must have developed within a year of exposure) is not necessarily transitory.
  • Occupational Health Nurses and Respiratory Protection ... Released: August 02, 2011
    Occupational health nurses (OHNs) are front-line advocates for preventing illness and injury and protecting health in a variety of workplace settings, including the areas of agriculture, construction, health care, manufacturing, and public safety. OHNs need education and training in respiratory protection in order to ensure both their safety and the safety of America’s workers. At the request of the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the IOM examined existing respiratory protection curricula and made recommendations to improve education and training in respiratory protection for OHNs. The IOM finds that current respiratory protection education receives varying amounts of dedicated time and resources and is taught using a variety of approaches. Several recommendations are made to improve the respiratory protection education and training of OHNs.
  • Climate Change, the Indoor Environment, and Health : Health ... Released: June 07, 2011
    Despite the considerable research on how climate change may affect public health, the impact of climate change on indoor environments has received relatively little attention. At the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the IOM examined the current state of scientific understanding of the effects of climate change on those environments. The IOM concludes that climate change can create indoor environmental problems and outlines specific ways for the EPA, other government organizations, and the private sector to prevent or reduce negative health effects from these problems.
  • Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange ... Released: May 20, 2011
    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established that Vietnam veterans are automatically eligible for disability benefits should they develop any diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure—but veterans who served on deep sea vessels in Vietnam are not included. These “Blue Water Navy” veterans must prove they were exposed to Agent Orange before they can claim benefits. At the request of the VA, the IOM examined whether Blue Water Navy veterans had similar exposures to Agent Orange as other Vietnam veterans.
  • Certifying Personal Protective Technologies: Improving ... Released: November 11, 2010
    Millions of workers in worksites across the United States rely on personal protective technologies (PPT) to guard them against injury, illness, or death. At the request of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the IOM examined the various approaches cur¬rently used to certify the effectiveness of PPT; to review the standards and regulations that cover PPT; and to assess the benefits of certification to worker safety.
  • Research Priorities for Assessing Health Effects from the Gulf ... Released: October 29, 2010
    It is as yet uncertain how the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will affect the health of clean-up workers, residents, and visitors in the Gulf. The IOM recommends that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focus on researching psychological and behavioral health, exposure to oil and dispersants, seafood safety, communication methods for health studies, and methods for conducting research in order to better understand and mitigate the effects on human health for this oil spill and for future disasters.
  • Review of the Proposal for the Gulf Long-Term Follow-Up ... Released: October 08, 2010
    The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is unprecedented in its size and duration, as were the use of chemical dispersants and controlled burns to remove the oil. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is developing a study protocol to investigate the health effects on clean-up workers. The IOM held a workshop to review and comment on NIEHS’s study protocol.