Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with oversight of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plans to hold a hearing this month on the CDC reorganization that many safety and health advocates take as a slap in the face to NIOSH.

As part of the CDC reorganization effective October 1, NIOSH is to become part of a mid-level "coordinating center" along with other CDC programs. Its director, Dr. John Howard, will no longer report directly to CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding.

Critics of the move fear it represents a de-emphasis on worker safety and health science and research and an injection of politics into traditionally neutral and independent NIOSH.

"I am not going to go along with the change," Specter told The Washington Post.