Making babies – Another human cost of the Irish Air Corps Toxic Chemical Health & Safety scandal

This article was originally published in June 2017 and is being republished as Lunchtime Live on Newstalk 106FM cover IVF & Fertility stories. 

Making babies the hard way.

There is something shameful and deviant about sitting in a small public toilet in a busy public hospital masturbating. Other people want to use the toilet, you are trying to be as quick and as quiet as possible but you have a job to do and you cant leave the cubicle until it is done.

Welcome to the glamorous world of infertility. I was married a number of years at this stage and my wife was starting to worry that pregnancy wasn’t happening for us. She had established contact with a maternity hospital over her worries. She was given a clean bill of health and now it was my turn and this started with a semen analysis to establish if I had a sufficient sperm count and also to establish the health & motility of these.

I presented at small hatch in in one of Dublin’s maternity hospitals where I was given a container, verified my name, address and DOB and was sent on my way to find a free toilet cubical where I could “produce” a sample.

After the job was done I returned the sample to the hatch where I was told that results would be available within the hour, not to me but to my wife’s gynaecologist. So the next day I rang his office for the results and was told that he couldn’t fit me in for an appointment for at least 3 weeks. This pissed me off greatly as I knew a semen analysis is an “eyeball” count and I wasn’t too keen to hang around for weeks awaiting the result.

I sought the consultant’s number and left a message for him to call me back to put me out of my misery. He called me back and confirmed what I had started to suspect…I had a serious fertility problem. A healthy sperm count was between 50 and 100 million sperm per m/l and mine was only 1 million. Considering that the average intercourse attempts before pregnancy in a healthy couple was 1 in 4 attempts my odds of creating a natural pregnancy were one in 400. Essentially it could take 33 years of monthly attempts for success not 4 months.

And there was worse news to come when we finally did sit and meet with the gynaecologist. Of those 1 million sperm that I did have over 90% were immotile or defective in some way so now my odds had lengthened to a 1 in 4000 chance of pregnancy. Now being fairly certain that we didn’t have over 300 years of monthly sex to create a family it became readily apparent we needed the intervention of fertility specialists. The gynaecologist told us our only option was ICSI a particularly expensive specialist form of IVF. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is a procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.

In that meeting with the gynaecologist I felt numb and totally drop kicked. I had reached the stage in my life where I wanted to become a father. The previous summer I had been on a rocky beach in the West of Ireland with my wife, her sister and two nieces. I remember walking along the beach with my 1 & 3 year old nieces, lifting over rocks to see the creepy crawly creatures under them, the subsequent delight of the kids and had thought “yep I could be a dad” .

As you can imagine my wife was utterly distraught at the news that we could not have children naturally. She is very good with children and had a much stronger instinct and desires for parenthood than me. The gynaecologist said that considering our ages (early thirties) and the severity of my infertility that we had no time to waste and he recommended Clane IVF clinic.

Starting IVF involves a lot of rigmarole. Further medicals, testing & analysis, and also regular tests for STDs such as hepatitis & HIV in order to protect their staff &  maintain a quality trail.

And of course during this build up our family and circle of friends are popping out sprogs like there is no tomorrow. When you find out you can’t have children naturally you start to notice every single pregnant woman you pass. Everyone is pregnant except you guys.

I do recall a dinner we went to in a friend’s house where there were 3 couples present. The host couple already had a child and over the course of the dinner the other couple declared “they had an announcement” they were expecting their first child. Obviously they were bursting with pride & happiness and we were very happy for them but immediately I could sense that my wife was distressed but “holding it together”.

After the meal was over and we said our goodbyes my wife broke down as soon as she got inside our car. It is unfortunately a reality for childless couples that other people’s good news can cause them pain. I suppose it invokes a panic that perhaps the IVF will never work and leads to a fear that we would never have “an announcement” of our own.

Eventually we received our prescription for the IVF medication which mainly injectable hormones for my wife. Although I was the one with the fertility problem all the treatment of egg production, egg harvesting and embryo implantation was naturally enough focused on my wife. She carried the can 100% for my infertility.

So off we skipped with our prescription like kids to a sweet shop, we could hardly contain our excitement. My wife required daily injections and I was the injector. Initially we were very giddy and one of our biggest problems was that one or other of us would get into a fit of giggles. It is not very easy to give an injection when one or other of you is shaking like a leaf from laughter. I became very skilled at giving the injections and on more than one occasion managed to give an injection that my wife didn’t even notice.

Part of the treatment involved regular inter-vaginal ultrasound monitoring to observe and monitor the growth of eggs. Normally a woman produces one fertile egg follicle per month alternating ovaries but during IVF the fertility drugs promote Controlled Ovarian Hyper-stimulation whereby a larger number of ripened egg follicles are produced. This is in order to harvest as many eggs as possible so that a number of embryos can be created. This increases your odds of success, IVF is very much numbers game.

I accompanied my wife to the first scan and everything was hunky dory so when some work commitments happened to coincide with the next scheduled scan my wife was happy to travel to the clinic on her own as we just saw the scan as routine and had no reason to fear anything was going amiss. So she headed down to Clane on her own and about an hour later I got a call from my wife who was sobbing uncontrollably at the other end. The nurse performing the scan had ultrasound had inserted the probe and then had gone white, she called the doctor urgently and he went white. It turned out my wife had started Hyper Ovulation Stimulation Syndrome and the cycle had to be stopped immediately.

So there and then our current chances of becoming parents evaporated. Many people will talk about the emotional roller-coaster that is IVF but we never paid much heed. We made a serious mistake and that was we never contemplated failure. We only contemplated success, failure wasn’t even on our mind, so when that failure did come we were totally unprepared. It was like the chair had been kicked out from underneath us.

As mentioned IVF essentially involves Controlled Ovarian Hyper-stimulation but Hyper Ovulation Stimulation Syndrome is a very dangerous condition where the woman reacts “too well” to the fertility drugs and produces too many ovarian follicles and is at risk of essentially an internal overdose of hormones leading to respiratory, cardiac or renal problems and can be fatal.

So getting over this HOSS involved stopping treatment and then careful monitoring to make sure the threat dissipated, we then needed my wife’s regular ovulation cycle to get back on track and as you can imagine this took a number of months. We found Clane IVF clinic to be very professional, very supportive and always felt they had our best interests to the fore and would not rush treatment cycles.

For many patients of IVF, the first cycle really is like the zeroing shots at range practice. It allows the IVF professionals get an idea to the responsiveness to IVF drugs of one woman’s body compared to another’s.

For our second cycle the IVF injection dose was adjusted and we made some significant adjustments to our expectations. This time we only contemplated failure and decided that success would be a bonus. This approach we believed would protect us somewhat from disappointment if the cycle failed again.

This cycle however went well and a date was set for February 2008 for the harvesting procedure. Again this involves an inter-vaginal ultrasound probe just this time with a retractable lance that is able to burst each follicle and extract the egg. At the time the IVF clinic was in a portacabins at Clane General Hospital and there was a small 3 bed-roomed ward next to the theatre which was connected via a hatch to the Embryology laboratory.

So my wife got gowned up and was sedated for the procedure as I waited on my own in the small ward. Eventually my wife was brought back into the ward in a wheelchair, bleeding and with tears running down her face and streaming down her neck. For me this was an extremely low point of my life. I felt extremely guilty because this was my fault, I was infertile not my wife. If I was functional she would not have needed to go through this.

So I’m sitting beside my wife who is upset and confused because of the sedation I’m trying to comfort her and then one of the IVF nurses called in to us to tell us the egg harvesting had been a success and that now it was “my turn”. I was handed a small sample container and had to go into a room I had nicknamed “the milking parlour” to have the most important wank of my life. If you pardon my porn reference this was the “money shot”, I had to produce and my aim had to be impeccable.

Once I provided the sample it was handed over immediately to the embryologist and he went and worked his scientific magic of ICSI. IVF is now a very well understood procedure but many people are a bit horrified when they realise the scientific & medical technology was adapted from the livestock industry.

So I believe that 18 eggs were harvested and treated with ICSI. This resulted in 15 successfully fertilised eggs. We opted for a service that matured the zygotes a bit longer in the lab. While this was more expensive it also improved the odds of success when implanted.

I think it was 2 weeks later that we went back for the eggs to be implanted. To improve the chances of success Clane implanted 2 zygotes in what is a relatively straightforward procedure and then it was a waiting game for 2 weeks until the first blood test.

Those 2 weeks are a time of huge anticipation. Do you cheat and try a home pregnancy test or do you wait until the official, higher accuracy, blood pregnancy test. So we waited until the official test and you have to then wait for a phone call from the lab to give you the good or bad news. Like I said we had dampened down expectations but it was till nerve racking.

When the news came it was positive, we were going to be parents. Naturally we were overjoyed and we kicked into “nesting mode” and what turned out to be an uneventful and normal pregnancy.

Sean, our first child,  was born in October 2009 and when I first set eyes on him I became very emotional. Tears came out of nowhere as I sobbed uncontrollably looking at this helpless little bundle swaddled in a hospital blanket, blinking and yawning and wondering where he was.

We still had some frozen embryos and so a year or so later we decided to try for another cycle. This time we chose to implant only a single embryo as a year or so into being parents neither of us fancied the thoughts of being parents of twins. But again, we made the mistake of not contemplating failure, again we thought everything would work like it did the previous time. So cycle 3 was a failure but as well as that all along the different phases of harvesting, fertilisation, implantation, freezing and thawing there was an attrition rate and so after cycle 3 we only had 2 fertilised zygotes left.

Again, after a failed cycle my wife needed a number of months for her menstrual cycle to get back to normal before we could go for the 4th cycle attempt. We took the decision to implant our last 2 remaining embryos taking the chance on twins rather than the expense of a further cycle. Like in the case of our first pregnancy only one embryo took and in May 2012 our second son Ciaran was born.

Both boys are now in school with one in Junior Infants and the other in First Class of our local Educate Together. Both are healthy fun loving kind kids with a love of the outdoors and both have a curious mind and 99% of the time they are a pure joy to raise. The thought always fascinates me as to how would their personalities be different if they had been implanted in the opposite order. Technically they are twins being conceived on the same day but just born over 2 years apart.

IVF was an expensive undertaking and we spent many tens of thousands of euro. I am conscious of many of my Irish Army Air Corps colleagues with fertility difficulties remain childless because either the IVF technology was not mature enough at the time to deal with their level of infertility or because they simply could not afford the cost of the procedure.

I have no doubt that my fertility trouble stemmed from my working environment in the Irish Army Air Corps at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel. The working conditions were horrendous,  we had no chemical training whatsoever, we were issued with no PPE whatsoever and the buildings that housed the chemicals I worked with were asbestos clad brick sheds built by the British in 1915-1918 and were unfit for purpose as they had utterly inadequate ventilation.

Chemicals we worked with in Baldonnel were exceptionally dangerous and were listed as Carcinogens, Mutagens and Teratogens and a number of chemicals in daily use were reproductive toxins and warned of harm to fertility as well as the capacity to cause heritable genetic harm.

My wife and I are definitely one of the luckier couples from Baldonnel, many couples have not been able to have children and will move into an old age that will be lonelier as a result. It is one thing if you don’t want a family but to want a family and be denied it because your employer didn’t give a damn about Health & Safety is galling.

Worse still I believe are the serving and former personnel who have managed to have children but whose children have suffered serious physical & mental disabilities due to their parents unprotected chemical exposure during their service in the Irish Army Air Corps. Many of these chemicals have the capacity not only to harm sperm, eggs and the developing child but also to harm the male &  female reproductive organs increasing the chance of disabled children long after leaving the service.

Infertility is common and on the increase but the levels of infertility or fertility difficulties experienced by male personnel in the most chemically contaminated workshops in Baldonnel appears anecdotally to be as high as 50%.

This is another health effect of the chemical Health & Safety failings that needs full investigation by competent medical & scientific bodies.

Solvent exposure and Parkinson’s disease

Shaun Wood worked was a painter and finisher  at Royal Air Force (RAF) bases across the world. During the early 1990s he was involved in the very intensive work preparing Tornado aircraft for the first Gulf War, in particular gluing anti-missile patches to the aircraft. This work was often done in confined spaces over long working hours.  He generally wore a respirator but these were not really adequate for the circumstances.

German Tornado Undergoing Maintenance

Shaun has been diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), which is a debilitating Parkinsonian syndrome that affects the nervous system. He is just 53 years of age.

Throughout his work Shaun was exposed to various solvents, but primarily trichloroethylene and dichloromethane. There is not a great deal of information about exposure to these solvents in aircraft maintenance. I have seen results from a survey carried out at an RAF base in Scotland where dichloromethane levels were measured during paint striping in the cockpit area of a Nimrod aircraft. There was only 1.5 m2 of paint removed, but the peak air concentrations were about 700 mg/m3. Results from three monitoring surveys where the British Health and Safety Executive sampled for dichloromethane during paint stripping on aircraft are shown in the following figure. The mean levels measured in each of these surveys were: 330, 790 and 1,960 mg/m3, and the highest individual level measured was 3,590 mg/m3.

Read full article on OH-world.org A blog about exposure science and occupational hygiene

http://johncherrie.blogspot.ie/2011/12/solvent-exposure-and-parkinsons-disease.html

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Below is a photo of one of the locations in the Irish Air Corps that used Dichloromethane, namely the NDT Shop of Engine Repair Flight. Yes that is a stream of the chemicals dripping out of the extractor fan and running down the wall. And yes that is dichloromethane, cresylic acid and the hexavalent sodium chromate all over the floor. The small barrel that is being dissolved by its contents contains Hydrofluoric Acid.

Some extracts from the Ambient Air Monitoring For Health and Safety at Work report dated 2nd August 1995

  1. Dichloromethane levels were measured in the engine shop in Wednesday the 12th and Thursday the 13th of July 1995 at the behest of Captain John Maloney who is still serving in the Irish Air Corps
  2. The level of dichloromethane found in ambient air in the engine
    cleaning area exceeded health and safety limits. 
  3. Levels of Dichloromethane were measured at 175.9ppm (622.5 mg/m3)  while the TWA health & safety limit for this chemical in 1995 was 50ppm.
  4. Significant levels of all parameters monitored were found in nearly all ambient air samples taken in the engine cleaning area.
  5. The ventilation in all areas monitored was deemed to be insufficient. It is thus recommended that mechanical heating and ventilation systems be adapted designed and installed in all areas monitored.

To summarise, the Irish Army Air Corps knew that Dichloromethane levels in the NDT shop in 1995 exceeded health & safety limits by 3.5 times yet officer management

  1. LEFT personnel of all ranks and none to rot in this exceptionally toxic working environment for a further 12 years.
  2. IGNORED the recommendation to design and install design a proper ventilation system, (they stuck in 2 x Xpelairs).
  3. NEVER re-tested the environment to see if the Xpelair fans worked, we suspect they made things worse by increasing evaporation rate.
  4. NEVER informed personnel of enlisted ranks that their workplace was contaminated to dangerous levels.

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Hexamethylene Diisocyanate – Just one of the toxic chemicals the Irish Air Corps and State Claims Agency want to hide from former personnel!

  1. Exposure can occur when isocyanates are curing or when cured isocyanates are heated.
  2. An individual’s response to isocyanate exposure can be immediate or may be DELAYED FOR SEVERAL YEARS.
  3. Skin exposure can also cause respiratory sensitisation.
  4. The odour threshold for isocyanates, i.e. the level at which an individual can smell an isocyanate, is typically higher than the allowed exposure limits.
  5. The Air Corps did eventually provide a “supplied air” respirator to spray paint & welding personnel. Unfortunately they sourced the “supplied air” from an old machine compressor located in ERF where the air had previously tested as 3.5 times over the allowed limit for Dichloromethane i.e. allowed limit was 50ppm and sourced air was from a location measured at 175ppm…out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Air Corps Hexamethylene Diisocyanate Usage

Hexamethylene Diisocyanates were a chemical component of polyurethane paint hardener used by the Spray Paint Shop (Dope Shop) at Baldonnel. For most of the existence of this shop personnel were NOT supplied with ANY PPE. The walls between the Spray Paint Shop and Engineering Wing Hangar & Workshops were not sealed and so Hexamethylene Diisocyanate and other chemicals entered these workplaces whilst spraying was in progress exposing all personnel.

Furthermore if a component could not be removed from an aircraft for spray painting it was spray painted in-situ in Engineering Wing Hangar whilst unprotected line & tech personnel worked in adjoining offices & workshops or on other aircraft in the hangar.

Visiting personnel to Engineering Wing hangar such as BFTS personnel doing an IRAN, Heli personnel doing an overhaul & even Military Police on a walkabout were also exposed.

A “waterfall” system with an extractor fan was also present. Personnel spray painted aircraft components toward the waterfall which captured most of the over-spray droplets. Fumes from this waterfall were then extracted by a fan, up a duct and released at approximately 3m height where the prevailing winds then carried the extracted fumes in the doors & windows of : 

  • 5th Maintenance Engineers
  • Air Corps Apprentice School
  • Avionics Squadron
  • BFW Stores
  • Engine Repair Flight
  • Old Tech Stores
  • Training Wing HQ Prefab
  • Parachute Shop

5-20% of people are prone to isocyanate sensitisation. and isocyanate cross sensitisation is a recognised phenomenon. Sensitisation is irreversible and unfortunately once sensitised it is next to impossible to avoid isocyanate allergy triggers in the modern environment as they are used to make all Polyurethane products.

It is also likely that health effects are suffered beyond the respiratory system & skin for example the gastric & nervous systems and it is also probable that sensitisation to isocyanates will lead to allergies to other unrelated chemicals leading to a cascade of triggering chemicals allergies & intolerance for over exposed individuals.

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Navy (New Zealand) veteran’s landmark compensation deal has others with Parkinson’s fearing trichloroethylene

Hundreds of New Zealanders may have been affected by a toxic chemical in a wide range of workplaces, a Weekend Herald investigation has found.

The discovery follows a landmark compensation pay-out to a New Zealand navy veteran who proved links between exposure to the solvent during his military service and his Parkinson’s disease.

The Herald reported last month that Veterans Affairs has provided the ex-serviceman with an entitlement to disability compensation for Parkinson’s, a condition attributed to his exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) while degreasing and cleaning electronics on a Royal New Zealand Navy ship during the 1948-1960 Malayan Emergency.

The Weekend Herald has since tracked down other men who fear their handling of TCE in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s could have caused their debilitating diseases and who now want to pursue their own compensation cases.

A former New Zealand Post Office telephone exchange technician, a naval dockyards apprentice and an aircraft engineer have all spoken about using TCE in their workplaces for years, without any health and safety precautions.

None of them used gloves or breathing apparatus while being exposed to the potent halocarbon that was popular across an array of sectors and workplaces in New Zealand, including garages, railway and aircraft workshops, and other depots.

“Trichlo was strong enough to bowl you over,” said 65-year-old Steve Walker, an ex-New Zealand Post Office employee at the Balclutha exchange, who now struggles with Parkinson’s. “It seeped into your skin, into your clothes. It took over you completely.”

Dave Schafer, a 58-year-old who used TCE weekly while cleaning instruments on Navy frigates during a five-year apprenticeship at the Devonport naval base, said: “Holy cow, that stuff was powerful. But as apprentices you kept your mouth shut and did your job, you didn’t rock the boat.”

Parkinson’s New Zealand, the Returned and Services’ Association (RSA), and those spoken to by the Weekend Herald, all believe there will be many more New Zealanders – hundreds if not thousands – who have been exposed to TCE over the years.

“Researchers have suggested there could be a significant lag time between exposure to TCE and the onset of Parkinson’s,” said Parkinson’s New Zealand chief executive Deirdre O’Sullivan.

“As such, we have reason to believe there could be many more serving and/or ex-serving NZDF people in a similar situation to this veteran.”

The potentially precedent-setting Navy veteran’s decision was made on appeal to the independent Veterans’ Entitlements Appeal Board, which considered appeals against decisions made under the War Pensions Act 1954.

It was made possible by ground-breaking international research including a major 2011 study on TCE exposure that concluded it was likely to result in a sixfold increase in the chances of developing Parkinson’s.

Read more on the New Zealand Herald’s website

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Interesting that the New Zealand Herald article discusses exposure in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. No mention of the 1990s onwards obviously because the industries there using the chemical copped on in the 1990’s.

Unfortunately the Irish Air Corps was still exposing personnel to Trike, (without protection) in ERF / Avionics in the 1990s and well into the first decade of this century and likely elsewhere in Baldonnel & Gormanston

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Safe Handling of Cresols, Xylenols & Cresylic Acids

Introduction

Cresols, xylenols and cresylic acids are hazardous substances and dangerous both to people and the environment if handled improperly. Cresols, xylenols and cresylic acid products produced by Sasol Chemicals (USA) LLC are highly versatile materials and are used as intermediates in the manufacture of a wide variety of industrial products such as resins, flame retardants, antioxidants, and coatings. In these and other applications, cresylic acids can be stored, transferred, processed and disposed of safely when proper procedures and safeguards are used. 

“Cresol” refers to any of the three isomers of methylphenol (C7H8O) or combinations thereof. “Cresols” commonly refer to a mixture which is predominantly methylphenol but may also contain lesser amounts of other alkylphenols. “Xylenol” is a common name for any of the six isomers of dimethylphenol (C8H10O) or their various combinations. Material which is predominantly dimethylphenol but which also contains ethylphenols and other alkylphenols may be referred to as “Xylenols”. “Cresylic acid” is a generic term referring to various combinations of cresols, xylenols, phenol or other alkylphenols (ethylphenols, propylphenols, trimethylphenols, etc.). 

Purpose & Scope

The purpose of this document is to provide information gathered through Sasol’s long experience in the safe handling of cresylic acids. It focuses on basic and practical information about working safely with these substances. Additional references are provided and it is strongly recommended that these and others be consulted prior to working with cresylic acids. Please do not hesitate to contact your regional Sasol office if we can be of assistance in the safe storage, handling, processing and disposal of our products.

Hazards

Health Hazards

The primary dangers posed in handling cresylic acids are those resulting from physical exposure. Cresylic acids are highly corrosive and contact with exposed skin or mucous membranes causes severe burns. These burns progress from an initial whitening of the exposed skin to blackishbrown necroses within 24 hours after exposure. Cresylic acids also exhibit anesthetic properties. Therefore, victims frequently misjudge the extent of their exposure when the initial burning sensation rapidly subsides. This can result in prolonged contact, causing toxic effects in addition to the corrosive damage. 

Cresylic acids are readily absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes in liquid or vapor form and act as systemic toxins for which there is no established treatment. Relatively small areas of exposure (e.g. an arm or a hand) can allow sufficient absorption to cause severe poisoning. Progressive symptoms of such poisoning include headache, dizziness, ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, muscular twitching, mental confusion, loss of consciousness and, possibly, death from lethal paralysis of the central nervous system. Chronic exposure can lead to loss of appetite, vomiting, nervous disorders, headaches, dizziness, fainting and dermatitis. 

The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) has established 5ppm or 22 mg/m3 permissible exposure limits (PEL’s) for cresols on an 8-hour time-weighted average basis. OSHA guidelines also indicate that adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be employed to avoid skin contact with cresols. Cresylic acids are not listed as carcinogens by OSHA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) or the National Toxicology Program (NTP).

Environmental Hazards

Cresylic acids show high acute toxicity towards both fish and aquatic invertebrates and must be prevented from entering surface or ground waters. Depending upon the specific composition, the material may be classified as a marine pollutant. Please refer to the current label and safety datasheet.

Controls for Working with Cresols

Safe storage, handling, processing and disposal of cresylic acids begin long before they ever arrive on-site. Measures necessary to ensure the health and well-being of employees, customers, the community and the  environment include the development of effective administrative and engineering controls designed to specifically address the hazards associated with cresylic acids. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is integral to safe handling and should be viewed as the last line of defense against an accidental failure of the administrative and/or engineering controls. 

Administrative Controls

Administrative controls are the foundation of any program designed for safely handling cresylic acids. Every company is unique in how they run their business and establish administrative controls. Those specifically developed for working with cresylic acids should address comprehensive process planning, thorough communication of hazards to employees and extensive training of employees on the proper implementation of all safety measures.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All personnel who work with or near cresylic acids must use adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). The extent of the potential exposure and consideration of established permissible exposure limits (PEL’s) should dictate the level of protection necessary. Personnel working with or near lab-scale quantities should always wear safety glasses with side-shields or

chemical mono-goggles, chemical-resistant or impermeable gloves, long-sleeved shirts and trousers as a minimum.

Circumstances such as elevated temperature and pressure or vacuum conditions should dictate if more substantial protection is necessary, including face shields, chemically impermeable outerwear, and breathing protection. Personnel transferring larger quantities of cresylic acids, or working in areas where a line-break could result in similar exposure, should always wear full protective equipment.

Emergency Procedures

Physical Exposure – External

The primary dangers involved in working with cresylic acids are the corrosive and toxic effects resulting from a physical exposure. Studies suggest that the severity of the exposure depends more on the magnitude of the exposed skin area than the concentration of cresylic acid. Therefore, the critical factor in dealing with an external physical exposure to cresylic acids is to minimize the extent and duration of the contact. To this end, the immediate response must be thorough flushing of the exposed areas with copious amounts of running water to remove all the cresylic acid in contact with the skin or eyes. Any contaminated clothing should be removed as quickly and carefully as possible during this process to avoid any additional skin contact.

Any exposed areas will have readily absorbed the cresylic acids and may be evidenced by a characteristic whitening of the skin. After thorough flushing with water, a solution consisting of 2 parts polyethylene glycol 400 to 1 part ethanol (PEG/EtOH) should be liberally applied to any affected skin (avoid contact with eyes), allowed to remain 15 to 30 seconds and then flushed away with fresh running water. Continue the cycling of PEG/EtOH and water for at least 15 minutes and then finish with thorough washing with soap and water. This decontamination procedure reduces the severity of the exposure, but does not completely eliminate damage to the skin or toxic effects. Medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.

Spill Containment & Clean-Up

Spill containment and cleanup of cresylic acids should only be performed by properly trained personnel employing an appropriate level of protective equipment as dictated by the extent of the spill. Small to medium spills on land should be surrounded by and absorbed onto inert clay absorbent and transferred to a disposal container. Larger land-spills should be diverted away from waterways, contained with booms, dikes or trenches, and collected in a vacuum truck. Any residual cresylic acids remaining after vacuuming should be cleaned up using the clay absorbent. All soils affected by the spill should be removed and placed in approved disposal containers.

Water spills are of particular concern due to the acute toxicity of cresylic acids to marine life. Clean up efforts should focus on containing the spill and quickly removing the cresylic acids that settle in deeper areas of the waterway. This can be aided greatly if the flow of water can be slowed or stopped. Further efforts should focus on removing as much of the dissolved cresylic acids as possible from the water using activated charcoal.

The composition and extent of any spill should be evaluated against local guidelines (ex. SARA Title III and RCRA in the U.S.) and reported to the proper agencies, if necessary. Any non disposable clean-up equipment should be thoroughly decontaminated with soap and water after use.

Source : SASOL / USA

Safe Handling of Cresols, Xylenols & Cresylic Acids

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Some significant points to note about Cresylic Acid

Below is a photo taken 10 years ago in the Irish Army Air Corps NDT shop,  part of the Avionics / ERF building complex. Ardrox 666 can be seen spilled on the ground where it was free to leach through a shore onto the grass verge outside. 

  • 25% of fresh Ardrox 666 used by the Air Corps was Cresylic Acid. This percentage was higher in waste Ardrox 666 as Dichloromethane evaporated.
  • That greenish / yellow stain dripping from the extractor fan is also Ardrox 666 from the air.

DELAY – DENY – DIE

What are Isocyanates?

What are Isocyanates?

An isocyanate is any chemical that contains at least one isocyanate group in its structure. An isocyanate group is a group of atoms containing one nitrogen atom attached by a double covalent bond to one carbon atom, which in turn is attached by a second double bond to an oxygen atom (indicated in structure as -N=C=O). (Do not confuse this with the cyanate functional group which is arranged as –O–C≡N). A chemical containing two such isocyanate groups is called a diisocyanate. Common examples are toluene diisocyanate (TDI), hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) and methylene diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI).

Isocyanates (a description which includes diisocyanates) are the raw materials that make up all polyurethane products. Isocyanates react with compounds containing alcohols to produce polyurethane polymers – which are used in polyurethane foams, thermoplastic elastomers and “2 pack” type polyurethane paints to improve the performance, durability and finish of painted surfaces. Jobs that may involve exposure to isocyanates include painting with polyurethane products, foam-blowing and the manufacture of polyurethane products like insulation materials, surface coatings, furniture, foam mattresses, under-carpet padding, packaging materials, laminated fabrics, polyurethane rubber, adhesives and also exposure can occur during the thermal degradation of polyurethane products.

Health Effects

Exposure to hazardous materials may be acute or chronic. Acute exposures refer to single high concentration exposures over shorter periods, while chronic exposures are repeated or continuous exposures over longer periods. Exposures to any toxic material may have either acute, immediate effects and/or chronic, long term health effects.

Inhalation:

Isocyanates are known to have a strong effect on the respiratory tract in some people. It is reported that there is a susceptible group in the population (estimated to be 5-20% of workers who are exposed occupationally) who can become sensitised to Isocyanates. Sensitization is the body’s hyper-reactive (allergy-like) response to a substance which has been touched or inhaled by a susceptible individual. Sensitization may develop as a result of a large single overexposure, for example, from a spill or accident, or from repeated overexposure at lower levels.

Once sensitised, these people, when later exposed to even very low concentrations of isocyanates even at levels below the exposure standard, can react by developing asthma-like symptoms, such as chest tightness, cough, wheezing and shortness of breath. Such attacks may occur up to several hours after cessation of exposure (for example, during the night after exposure) but, if a person is particularly sensitive, the attack can occur earlier or immediately. This sensitisation is essentially irreversible and can prevent any further work for the individual in their job using Isocyanates or any position associated with use of Isocyanates – even at very low levels below the regulated exposure level and that may not affect others. Many spray painters working in smash repair shops have had to leave the industry because they are sensitised to isocyanates.

An individual’s response to isocyanate exposure can be immediate or may be delayed for several years. Asthmatic people are more prone to sensitisation and other adverse reactions. Persons with a history of asthma, allergies, hay fever, recurrent acute bronchitis or any occupational chest disease or impaired lung function is advised against risking exposure to isocyanates. In rare cases, death has occurred from a severe asthma attack after significant isocyanate exposure.

Skin

Isocyanates are also skin irritants (causing inflammation and dermatitis) and there is some evidence that skin exposure can also cause respiratory sensitisation.

Eyes

Isocyanates are an irritant to the eyes. Splashes can cause severe chemical conjunctivitis.

Other Health Effects

Other health effects which have been reported include liver and kidney dysfunction. Some Isocyanate materials are considered to be potential human carcinogens (IARC).

Spraying Isocyanate Paints

Spray painters need to understand the health risks involved in spraying polyurethane paints – these are the two-pack mixes of polyurethane paints and possibly also in the one-pack moisture-cured mixes. These products are widely used in the automotive and other industries because of their excellent gloss, hardness, adhesion and chemical resistance.

The major hazard with spraying polyurethane paints is breathing the mist or aerosol droplets of the paint spray and absorbing the isocyanate and other components into your lungs.

The odour threshold for isocyanates, i.e. the level at which an individual can smell an isocyanate, is typically higher than the allowed exposure limits. In other words, if a painter smells the sweet, fruity, pungent odour of an isocyanate, they are probably already overexposed. That is why the recommended respiratory protection for employees spraying isocyanates is a supplied air respirator and not an air purifying respirator (i.e. filter cartridge style). The issue with use of air purifying respirators is that they will reach a point at which the filter becomes saturated and will no longer capture the isocyanate or other solvents. When that filter breakthrough happens, an Isocyanates overexposure can occur, potentially causing an irreversible sensitization. Use of a supplied air system removes this filter change factor – it does not rely on the painter changing his gas/vapour filters at appropriate intervals.

Note: if isocyanate-containing paint is applied by brush, roller or dipping, in a well ventilated area, there is generally no more hazard than with ordinary paints. These application methods usually do not produce the higher concentrations of isocyanate vapour associated with spraying.

After curing, polyurethane paints contain no free isocyanates and are not hazardous under normal use. However, welding or burning of polyurethane coated surfaces can release a range of contaminants. Gases or vapours evolved can include HDI, TDI, MDI as well as many other compounds (metal fumes, organic gases or vapours, particulates), depending on the original polyisocyanate resin used. When welding or cutting metal coated with a polyurethane coating, a worker may be exposed to a range of these decomposition products which will vary depending on type of process being used to weld or cut, the nature of the base metal and type of coating. Respiratory protection that is suitable for welding applications will also provide suitable respiratory protection in these cases

Source 3M Australia / New Zealand

http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/777847O/isocyanates-3m-techupdate.pdf

 *****

Some significant points to note from this 3M document.

  1. Exposure can occur when cured isocyanates are heated.
  2. An individual’s response to isocyanate exposure can be immediate or may be DELAYED FOR SEVERAL YEARS.
  3. Skin exposure can also cause respiratory sensitisation.
  4. The odour threshold for isocyanates, i.e. the level at which an individual can smell an isocyanate, is typically higher than the allowed exposure limits.
  5. The Air Corps did eventually provide a “supplied air” respirator to spray paint & welding personnel. Unfortunately they sourced the “supplied air” from an old machine compressor located in ERF where the air had previously tested as 3.5 times over the allowed limit for Dichloromethane i.e. allowed limit was 50ppm and sourced air was from a location measured at 175ppm…out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Air Corps Isocyanate Usage

Isocyanates were used by the Spray Paint Shop (Dope Shop) at Baldonnel. For most of the existence of this shop personnel were NOT supplied with ANY PPE. The walls between the Spray Paint Shop and Engineering Wing Hangar & Workshops were not sealed and so isocyanates and other chemicals entered these workplaces whilst spraying was in progress exposing all personnel.

Furthermore if a component could not be removed from an aircraft for spray painting it was spray painted in-situ in Engineering Wing Hangar whilst unprotected line & tech personnel worked in adjoining offices & workshops or on other aircraft in the hangar.

A “waterfall” system with an extractor fan was also present. Personnel spray painted aircraft components toward the waterfall which captured most of the over-spray droplets. Fumes from this waterfall were then extracted by a fan, up a duct and released at approximately 3m height where the prevailing winds then carried the extracted fumes in the doors & windows of Avionics Squadron & Engine Repair Flight exposing further unprotected personnel.

Sensitisation is irreversible and once sensitised it is next to impossible to avoid isocyanates in the modern environment. It is also likely that health effects are suffered beyond the respiratory system & skin for example the gastric & nervous systems. 

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Individual chemical constituents of Aviation Gasoline (AVGAS) & Jet Fuel (AVTUR)

We have just added links to Safety Data Sheets which show the constituent chemicals for AVGAS (100LL) as well as AVTUR (Jet A-1) on our Chemical Product Names & Safety Data Sheets page.

AVGAS - 100LL

Chemical NameCAS-NoClassification
Gasoline86290-81-5 Muta. 1B
Carc. 1B
Asp. Tox. 1
Tetraethyl lead 78-00-2 Acute Tox. 1
Repr. 1A
STOT RE 2
Toluene108-88-3Skin Irrit. 2
Repr. 2
STOT Single Exp. 3
STOT Rep. Exp. 2
Asp. Tox. 1
Xylene, mixed isomers1330-20-7
Acute Tox. 4 - Dermal
Acute Tox. 4 - Inhalation
Skin Irrit. 2
Ethylbenzene100-41-4Acute Tox. 4 - Inhalation
STOT Rep. Exp. 2
Asp. Tox. 1
Cyclohexane110-82-7
Skin Irrit. 2
STOT Single Exp. 3
Asp. Tox. 1
n-Hexane110-54-3Skin Irrit. 2
Repr. 2
STOT Single Exp. 3
STOT Rep. Exp. 2
Asp. Tox. 1
Trimethylbenzene, all
isomers
Trimethylbenzene, all
isomers
Skin Irrit. 2
Eye Irrit. 2B
STOT Single Exp. 3
STOT Rep. Exp. 1
Asp. Tox. 1
Naphthalene91-20-3
Acute Tox. 4 - Oral
Carc. 2
Cumene (Isopropylbenzene)98-82-8STOT Single Exp. 3
Asp. Tox. 1

 

AVTUR - Jet A1

Chemical NameCAS-NoClassification
Kerosine (petroleum) 8008-20-6 Asp. Tox.1
Skin Irrit.2
STOT RE3
Kerosine (petroleum),
hydrodesulfurized
64742-81-0
Asp. Tox.1
Skin Irrit.2
STOT RE3
Kerosene (Fischer
Tropsch), Full range,
C8-C16 branched and
linear
848301-66-6 Asp. Tox.1
Ethylbenzene100-41-4Acute Tox. 4 - Inhalation
STOT Rep. Exp. 2
Asp. Tox. 1
Xylene, mixed isomers1330-20-7

Acute Tox. 4 - Dermal
Acute Tox. 4 - Inhalation
Skin Irrit. 2
Cumene (Isopropylbenzene)98-82-8STOT Single Exp. 3
Asp. Tox. 1
*****
On the 26th of January 2016 the current head of Health & Safety in the Irish Army Air Corps stated in an email to the Medical Corps that “The Formation Safety & Unit Safety Personnel have reviewed refuelling work practices and believe that the risk of exposure is low.”

Defence admit another 12 sites “contaminated by toxic chemicals”

The Australian Defence Force has admitted its problem with toxic chemicals leaking from its bases is much bigger than first thought.

Another 12 ADF sites have been added to the original six investigated, causing more worry for the personnel who work there as well as the locals living nearby.

Defence Force widow Kristen Russell remembers the moment her partner Greg Lukes was diagnosed with kidney cancer at just 33 years old. Two years later, the father of two young children was dead.

“He was one of those people that went to the gym everyday, ate all the right things, never smoked, never drank. It was a shock that somebody like him could get that type of cancer,” Mrs Russell told 7 News.

Petty Officer Lukes served at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, working on Sea King helicopters. The ADF believes exposure to a number of chemicals related to the choppers was the likely cause of his deadly disease.

There is now further concern about chemicals known as preflourinated compounds used in firefighting foams at that base, among many others.

Petty Officer Luke’s widow has called on the ADF to “release the truth. If it’s happened, it’s happened. Let’s get it out there and move forward,” she said.

The ADF has already launched detailed investigations into six sites including HMAS Albatross.

On Tuesday it released a report revealing chemicals were found in the soil or ground water at another 12 bases. The sites include three in NSW, two in Queensland, two in Victoria, one in Western Australia and three in the NT. Lawyers are already preparing for class actions.

Read read article & watch related video by following link below.

Report on the Molecular Investigations into the Jet Fuel and solvent exposure in the DeSeal/ReSeal programme conducted at the Mater Research Institute (UQ), Brisbane.

Executive Summary

Overview

The main objective of this project was to investigate the toxicity of JP-8 fuel and the solvents used in the Deseal/Reseal programme using a systems biology approach. In the exposure environment (fuel tanks, aircraft hangers etc), workers were typically exposed either by inhalation of vapours or by absorption through the skin. There were occasionally reports of direct ingestion through the mouth. Health studies of exposed workers and other research reports show premature death for some individuals, an increased risk of unusual malignancies in internal organs such as small bowel, erectile dysfunction, and behavioural disturbances. These findings may manifest years after exposure suggesting changes to the cells and tissues not directly exposed to the fuel and solvents. Changes to the systems biology was investigated by proteomic and genomic studies.

Laboratory cell studies of DeSeal/ReSeal compounds

Development of Cell exposure model

Previous methods for studying cellular responses to JP8 and solvents involved direct addition of these compounds to cells in laboratory growth plates using other solvents such as Ethanol. These methods were considered to be inadequate because they did not recognise the role of circulating blood plasma in distributing these compounds to internal organs. The JFES project team developed a method of studying cells by exposing them to blood plasma, which they believe is a better model of the inhalation and skin exposure routes for distributing solvents to internal organs. This method has been published in a peer reviewed journal. (See Appendix 1)

Distribution of JP8 and DeSeal/ReSeal solvents

The studies of plasma exposed to JP8 and solvents showed that the compounds are not distributed by plasma in the same proportions as found in the fuel and solvent mixtures. This means that higher levels of some compounds are actually presented to cells and organs than those proportions in the fuel solvent mixtures. The study showed that the majority of the compounds are distributed by binding to plasma lipids rather than simply dissolved in the plasma water. This raises the possibility that individuals with higher bloods lipids may distribute more of the compounds to internal organs.

The effects of the JP8 and solvents on cells

The study then tested the effects of the JP8 and solvents on cells. The JP8
and solvents were tested as a mixture and individually. The key findings
were:-

  • Plasma exposed to JP8 alone is directly toxic to cells
  • Plasma exposed to a mixture of JP8 combined with solvents has greater
    toxicity to cells with 40% cells showing changes before 4 hours, and 90%
    cells affected at 12 hours.

The following individual components were found to have the highest cellular toxicity:-

  • Kerosene
  • Benzene and butylbenzene
  • All Alkanes including iso-octane, decane, dodecane, tetradecane and
    hexadecane
  • Diegme
  • N, N Dimethyl acetimide
  • Naptha
  • Thiophenol

The solvents used in the Deseal/Reseal programme demonstrated either low cell toxicity or manifest toxicity to a lesser extent than the JP8 fuel components.

Effects on gene expression

Gene expression in cells was altered following exposure. Changes greater then 5 fold were considered significant. The genes altered are shown in table (3). The function of these genes involved mostly cell survival/death, metabolism, cell cycle, DNA maintenance (housekeeping), and cell regulation. These genes have been implicated in pathological processes including cancer, neurodegeneration, and immune suppression.

Effects on proteins

Cellular proteins were altered after exposure. The changes to cellular proteins reflected the changes in gene expression involving cell survival/death, metabolism, cell division, and roles in cellular gene transcription/translation.

Cell Death

Cell death occurred by two mechanisms. A number of cells appeared more vulnerable with death occurring by disruption of cellular membranes and by lysis (bursting) of the cells. The more common mechanism of cell death was by apoptosis, which is a programmed response of cells to injury. Not all injured cells undergo complete apoptosis indicating persistence of injured cells. This may suggest a survival of injured cells with malignant potential. The cell culture methods could not determine the long term effects.

Study of exposed workers

The study of exposed workers showed differences from the matched control group in health indices, and in some genomic studies. The changes were not as significant as those seen in the acute cell exposure model in the laboratory.

Rating of exposure

Because of the unavailability of accurate exposure data (degree and duration), a problem also encountered in other studies, the workers were classified into 3 groups.

  1. Definite high exposure who worked inside the fuel tanks
  2. Significant contact such as by dosing of skin or accidental ingestion
  3. Minimal contact in the general area such as collection of rags or
    cleaning of the area.
Health Assessment Scores

The Health assessment scores showed exposed workers to have a lower health rating than controls. There did not appear to be a decrease in the health scores (dose response) related to the degree of exposure. Workers with mild exposure had the same decrease in their health scores as those with high exposure. This suggests that other factors beyond the Deseal/ Reseal contact have decreased the health scores.

Genetic studies of blood cells from exposed workers

All studies were undertaken on plasma and white blood cells as these were
the only tissues for which it was possible to obtain samples. The genetic studies of blood cells examined two types of changes in gene expression, the presence of chromosomal changes, and for appearance of mutations in
the mitochondrial DNA. There were no chromosomal changes detected at a
level of 50Kb using a high resolution SNP ARRAY.

There were no changes in the mitochondrial DNA mutation load between exposed workers and age matched controls (Mitochondrial DNA changes can accumulate with age).

There were no changes in the amount or type of protein coding mRNA expression, which is an index of cell activity. In disease states , these are usually tissue specific and may not appear in blood cells unless they are directly involved in the disease process.

There were small but significant and consistent changes in the expression of regulatory microRNAs that control activity of other genes. The regulatory functions of the altered genes have been linked to neurological changes and neurodegenerative disorders. It must be emphasised that interpretation of the function of regulatory genes is an evolving science with much uncertainty at present. The regulatory genes, which compose 98% of our genome, have a major role in human development, adaptation and response to disease. The function is only known for ~40% of these at present. Disease causing associations, with some early exceptions, are still unmapped.

Protein studies of plasma and blood cells

No significant changes were seen in the levels and types of protein expressed in the plasma and blood cells of exposed workers. A few small changes were seen consistently, but these did not reach a level that the researchers considered significant.

Discussion and Conclusions

Confounders and sensitivity
Dose response not detected

A dose response would have been expected but was not observed in the workers with different exposure histories. The unexpected similarity in the health scores and genomic studies within the exposed groups (low, medium, high) raises several hypotheses:-

Confounders

There are other factors independent of Deseal/Reseal exposure which could produce the changes seen. Confounders could include:-

  • An ascertainment bias whereby only those workers affected by any exposure volunteered to participate in the study.
  • An ascertainment bias whereby only those workers NOT affected by the exposure (i.e. Survivors) volunteered to participate in the study.
  • The workers were stratified by their exposure to Deseal/Reseal materials. The effects seen may NOT be due to the Deseal/Reseal materials but to some other experience of the workers. The cellular studies suggest that exposure to fuel alone could be responsible.
  • It was not possible to examine other possible shared confounding events in the work careers or in the lifestyle of the personnel. (e.g. other occupational exposure not related to Deseal/Reseal such as medications, substance abuse, nutrition)
  • This study was conducted on individuals between 10 and 30 years after their exposure. If significant changes occurred at the time of exposure, normal cellular repair and selection mechanisms may have lessened the biological signal that could be observed in this study. The small but consistent changes observed suggest this possibility. Either the effect at the time was minimal but has persisted, or the effect was larger but has diminished over-time.
  • The cellular studies show that the compounds are mostly distributed by plasma lipids. The exposure to organs within the body would likely depend on the concentration of plasma lipids at the time of fuel exposure. Plasma lipids vary genetically between individuals, with lifestyle and alcohol intake, with composition of their diet, as well as the time after meals when the exposure occurred. The lack of a dose effect could be explained if workers in the lower exposure group had higher plasma lipids at the time of exposure. Individuals in the high exposure group worked within the fuel tanks and were selected because they were leaner and smaller, possibly protected to some extent by lower plasma lipids.

Significance of findings

The cellular findings, supported by other recently published genomic studies, indicate a definite toxicity from JP8 to exposed cells. The components of JP8 tested are commonly found in most (aviation) fuels. The results indicate that there is a need for concern about exposure to fuels in general. The study was not designed to determine the degree of occupational exposure necessary to produce cellular changes. However, the results show that cells grown in a nutrient containing as little as 5% exposed plasma are affected. In the body, blood cells have 100% exposure to plasma while other organs will have less exposure depending on the net blood flow and cellular membrane barriers. Organs such as brain, liver and bowel have very high blood flow. Cellular membranes generally have greater permeability to substances dissolved in lipids.

The study was also not designed to determine the most toxic routes of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, skin contact), but did demonstrate that fuel components can be distributed to organs through blood plasma, i.e. organs such as brain or liver, not directly exposed in the contact, may undergo secondary exposure. The implication is that all body systems must be considered in assessing/monitoring the health of exposed workers.

While the changes seen many years after exposure were small, they were consistent. The changes are most apparent in gene regulation and had some association to the health problems (e.g., malignancy) identified in other studies.

There were no chromosomal changes or mutations linked to the exposure. The genes changes seen can be described as Epigenetic, which is a mechanism of cellular adaptation to some environmental influence. Epigenetic changes are less clearly linked (at the present knowledge) to disease. Epigenetic changes occur through a variety of cellular mechanisms and these were not investigated in this study. Some epigenetic changes can be transferred down through successive generations but currently have not been shown to cause birth defects or mutation in off-spring.

Recommendations

The cell results show a definite cellular toxicity from JP8 fuel. The components of the fuel exhibiting toxicity are common to most fuels. Consideration should be given to further studies of workers exposed to fuel of any type.

Newer genomic and bioinformatic technologies have been developed during the time of this study and have been employed in other studies of occupational fuel exposure. These technologies can be applied to other exposure risks (including PTSD) in defence (veteran) health risk assessment. An expert committee should be constituted to advise on research and clinical application of these technologies.

Plasma free DNA sequencing can now be used to assess (from blood samples), the cellular death associated with tumours, transplant rejection, miscarriage and infections. Targeted RNA expression studies can reveal immediate changes in gene activity following fuel exposure. A study of workers with recent or past fuel exposure is recommended.

The best time to study cellular changes would be immediately after direct exposure. A protocol should be established for assessment of an exposed individual to include sample collection immediately after the exposure for quantification of plasma lipids, plasma fuel components, free DNA sequencing, and targeted RNA expression.

Exposed veterans should be reassured that while small and consistent changes were observed in this study, there were no changes detected known to have immediate or severe health consequences. The changes support the findings from other studies that there is a possible increased risk of developing health problems. As the changes observed are in gene regulation, it is also possible that healthy lifestyle changes may ameliorate the risk.

31st JULY 2014

Download the full report on the Royal Australian Air Force website below.

***

Difference between Jet A1 & JP8

Jet fuel, aviation turbine fuel (ATF), or avtur, is a type of aviation fuel designed for use in aircraft powered by gas-turbine engines. It is colorless to straw-colored in appearance. The most commonly used fuels for commercial aviation are Jet A and Jet A-1, which are produced to a standardized international specification. The only other jet fuel commonly used in civilian turbine-engine powered aviation is Jet B, which is used for its enhanced cold-weather performance.

Jet fuel is a mixture of a large number of different hydrocarbons. The range of their sizes (molecular weights or carbon numbers) is defined by the requirements for the product, such as the freezing or smoke point. Kerosene-type jet fuel (including Jet A and Jet A-1) has a carbon number distribution between about 8 and 16 (carbon atoms per molecule); wide-cut or naphtha-type jet fuel (including Jet B), between about 5 and 15.[1]

Additives

The DEF STAN 91-91 (UK) and ASTM D1655 (international) specifications allow for certain additives to be added to jet fuel, including:[13][14]

  • Antioxidants to prevent gumming, usually based on alkylated phenols, e.g., AO-30, AO-31, or AO-37;
  • Antistatic agents, to dissipate static electricity and prevent sparking; Stadis 450, with dinonylnaphthylsulfonic acid (DINNSA) as a component, is an example
  • Corrosion inhibitors, e.g., DCI-4A used for civilian and military fuels, and DCI-6A used for military fuels;
  • Fuel system icing inhibitor (FSII) agents, e.g., Di-EGME; FSII is often mixed at the point-of-sale so that users with heated fuel lines do not have to pay the extra expense.
  • Biocides are to remediate microbial (i.e., bacterial and fungal) growth present in aircraft fuel systems. Currently, two biocides are approved for use by most aircraft and turbine engine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); Kathon FP1.5 Microbiocide and Biobor JF.[15]
  • Metal deactivator can be added to remediate the deleterious effects of trace metals on the thermal stability of the fuel. The one allowable additive is N,N’-disalicylidene 1,2-propanediamine.

As the aviation industry’s jet kerosene demands have increased to more than 5% of all refined products derived from crude, it has been necessary for the refiner to optimize the yield of jet kerosene, a high value product, by varying process techniques. New processes have allowed flexibility in the choice of crudes, the use of coal tar sands as a source of molecules and the manufacture of synthetic blend stocks. Due to the number and severity of the processes used, it is often necessary and sometimes mandatory to use additives. These additives may, for example, prevent the formation of harmful chemical species or improve a property of a fuel to prevent further engine wear.

JP-8, or JP8 (for “Jet Propellant 8”) is a jet fuel, specified and used widely by the US military. It is specified by MIL-DTL-83133 and British Defence Standard 91-87, and similar to commercial aviation’s Jet A-1, but with the addition of corrosion inhibitor and anti-icing additives.

A kerosene-based fuel, JP-8 is projected to remain in use at least until 2025. It was first introduced at NATO bases in 1978. Its NATO code is F-34.

‘Coincidences’ hinder Air Corps whistleblowers’ case

A number of whistleblowers allege that a health and safety failure on the part of the Air Corps has caused their chronic illnesses. Joe Leogue looks at their case and how, just as with Garda Maurice McCabe, ‘coincidence after coincidence after coincidence’ has emerged to undermine their position.

“THERE are those who may say that this litany of grave errors can’t just simply be coincidence after coincidence after coincidence that is being suggested,” the senior counsel said.

The line was a standout contribution in a tribunal that made headlines in every news outlet this summer.

Senior counsel Pat Marrinan was talking about Garda Whistleblower Maurice McCabe — and how every one of a number of apparent ‘coincidences’ in his case worked to his detriment.

However, the line also resonated with whistleblowers involved in a different dispute.

A dispute that has found some at odds with the State. An ongoing scandal that has seen allegations of a cover-up, the alleged intimidation of those speaking out against the Defence Forces, and one that can be boiled down to one question: Are a number of men who served the State now seriously ill because of the Defence Forces’ failure to protect them from the effects of harmful chemicals?

Those speaking out do not believe the various occurrences — revealed in a series of articles in this newspaper since January — can be
coincidental.

The ongoing issue relating to chemical exposure in the Air Corps concerns two separate, yet related problems for the Defence Forces — the first of which was raised in 2013.

Back then, the first of a number of lawsuits against the State was filed in the High Court in which it was alleged that there were historic failures to protect technicians from the effects of the chemicals they used.

The second problem was revealed in November 2015, when the first of four whistleblowers within the Air Corps made protected disclosures to the then-defence minister Simon Coveney.

These men warned that the Air Corps was not doing enough to protect currently serving technicians from the harmful effects of the chemicals with which they clean and service the aircraft.

Their warnings would be vindicated following an independent investigation last year.

And yet the red flags should have been raised as far back as 2013, when the first of the lawsuits came — allegations that would be echoed years later by the protected disclosures.

Read more on the Irish Examiner below…