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Personal Exposure to Jp-8 Jet Fuel Vapors and Exhaust at Air Force Bases

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Abstract: JP-8 jet fuel (similar to commercial/international jet A-1 fuel) is the standard military fuel for all types of vehicles, including the U.S. Air Force aircraft inventory. As such, JP-8 presents the most common chemical exposure in the Air Force, particularly for flight and ground crew personnel during preflight operations and for maintenance personnel performing routine tasks. Personal exposure at an Air Force base occurs through occupational exposure for personnel involved with fuel and aircraft handling and/or through incidental exposure, primarily through inhalation of ambient fuel vapors. Because JP-8 is less volatile than its predecessor fuel (JP-4), contact with liquid fuel on skin and clothing may result in prolonged exposure. The slowly evaporating JP-8 fuel tends to linger on exposed personnel during their interaction with their previously unexposed colleagues. To begin to assess the relative exposures, we made ambient air measurements and used recently developed methods for collecting exhaled breath in special containers. We then analyzed for certain volatile marker compounds for JP-8, as well as for some aromatic hydrocarbons (especially benzene) that are related to long-term health risks. Ambient samples were collected by using compact, battery-operated, personal whole air samplers that have recently been developed as commercial products; breath samples were collected using our single-breath canister method that uses 1-L canisters fitted with valves and small disposable breathing tubes. We collected breath samples from various groups of Air Force personnel and found a demonstrable JP-8 exposure for all subjects, ranging from slight elevations as compared to a control cohort to > 100 x the control values. This work suggests that further studies should be performed on specific issues to obtain pertinent exposure data. The data can be applied to assessments of health outcomes and to recommendations for changes in the use of personal protective equipment that optimize risk reduction without undue impact on a mission.

This work was funded by the EPA and the U.S. Air Force. It has been subjected to EPA review and approved for publication. The views expressed here do not represent official views of the Department of Defense or the Department of the Air Force. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.
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Citation:Pleil, J. D., L. B. Smith, and S. D. Zelnick. Personal Exposure to Jp-8 Jet Fuel Vapors and Exhaust at Air Force Bases. ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PERSPECTIVES 108(3):183-192, (2000).
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Contact: Liz Hope - (919) 541-2785 or hope.elizabeth@epa.gov
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Division: Human Exposure & Atmospheric Sciences Division
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Branch: Exposure Methods & Monitoring Branch
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 03/01/2000
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