99 Untimely* deaths recorded in Irish Air Corps toxic chemical exposure tragedy

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 99 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 86 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 61 of these deaths have occurred since 2010
Either the rate of death is accelerating or we are missing many deaths from previous decades or possibly both.
 

3 most significant causes of death

  • 42% of deaths are from cancer
  • 27% of deaths are from cardiac issues
  • 15% of deaths are from suicide (at least 15 suicides)

*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 53 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.

We are not stating that every single death is directly due to chemical exposure but many personnel who did not handle chemicals directly were unknowingly exposed due to close proximity to contaminated work locations.

98 Untimely* deaths recorded in Irish Air Corps toxic chemical exposure tragedy

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 98 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 85 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 60 of these deaths have occurred since 2010
Either the rate of death is accelerating or we are missing many deaths from previous decades or possibly both.
 

3 most significant causes of death

  • 41% of deaths are from cancer
  • 28% of deaths are from cardiac issues
  • 15% of deaths are from suicide (at least 15 suicides)

*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 53 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.

We are not stating that every single death is directly due to chemical exposure but many personnel who did not handle chemicals directly were unknowingly exposed due to close proximity to contaminated work locations.

97 Untimely* deaths recorded in Irish Air Corps toxic chemical exposure tragedy

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 97 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 84 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 59 of these deaths have occurred since 2010
Either the rate of death is accelerating or we are missing many deaths from previous decades or possibly both.
 

3 most significant causes of death

  • 40% of deaths are from cancer
  • 27% deaths are from cardiac issues
  • 15% of deaths are from suicide (at least 15 suicides)

*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 53 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.

We are not stating that every single death is directly due to chemical exposure but many personnel who did not handle chemicals directly were unknowingly exposed due to close proximity to contaminated work locations.

Taking the Irish Air Corps a stage further in their Jet fuel toxic hazard knowledge!

The below post is taken from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)  which is a part of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

This Public Health Statement is the summary chapter from the Toxicological Profile for JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels. It is one in a series of Public Health Statements about hazardous substances and their health effects.

A shorter version, the ToxFAQs™, is also available. This information is important because this substance may harm you.

The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present.

Some workers may be exposed to JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels through their skin if they come into contact with them without adequate protection from gloves, boots, coveralls, or other protective clothing.

This Public Health Statement summarizes the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s findings on JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels, tells you about them, the effects of exposure, and describes what you can do to limit that exposure.

If you are exposed to JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels, many factors determine whether you’ll be harmed. These include how much you are exposed to (dose), how long you are exposed to it (duration), and how you are exposed (route of exposure). You must also consider the other chemicals you are exposed to and your age, sex, diet, family traits, lifestyle, and state of health.

What are JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels?

JP-5 and JP-8 stand for jet propellant-5 and jet propellant-8. Propellants are substances that move other objects or give thrust. JP-5 and JP-8 are used as military aircraft fuels. They can also be used for fueling land vehicles and as a fuel source for heaters and lights.

Jet A is the type of fuel used in civilian aircraft; however, the U.S. Air Force has recently started using Jet A (plus certain additives) for flying in the continental United States. JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels are colorless liquids that are flammable and smell like kerosene. The fuels are made from chemical compounds called hydrocarbons, which are found naturally in the earth as crude oil. Hydrocarbons are compounds that contain only carbon and hydrogen. The crude oil is refined into a number of different types of fuel.

Jet A, JP-5, and JP-8 fuels may also contain various additives such as antioxidants and additives to prevent icing in the fuel lines.

What happens to JP-5, JP-8 and Jet A fuels when they enter the environment?

JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels are made up of hundreds of hydrocarbon compounds; many of these hydrocarbons are also present in gasoline. These hydrocarbons can be grouped into several classes of chemicals which have similar chemical properties. The different chemical classes can behave differently when they enter the environment.

For example, some of these can easily evaporate into the air during aircraft loading and unloading operations or as a result of their normal use as a jet fuel for civilian or military aircraft. Some may also evaporate when jet fuels are spilled accidentally onto soils or surface waters. Other chemical classes are more likely to dissolve in water following spills to surface waters or leaks from underground storage tanks. Some chemical classes found in jet fuels may slowly move down through the soil to the groundwater, while others may readily attach to particles in the soil or water. Once attached in water, these particles may sink down into the sediment.

The chemicals that evaporate may break down into other substances in air by reacting with sunlight or other chemicals in the air. The chemicals that dissolve in water may also be broken down into other substances by microorganisms found in water and sediment. However, this may take many years to occur, depending on the environmental conditions. Some chemicals that attach to soil or other matter (for example, marsh sediment) may remain in the environment for more than a decade.

Some of the chemicals in jet fuels may be detected in fish and aquatic organisms after an accidental release into a lake, river, or stream. These hydrocarbons are not expected to persist in aquatic organisms.

How might I be exposed to JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels?

It is unlikely that you will be exposed to JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels unless you work with jet fuels or live very close to where they are used or were spilled.

Exposure to jet fuels can occur if you have skin contact with soil or water contaminated from a spill or leak. You may also be exposed to JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels if you swim in waters where jet fuels have been spilled. If jet fuels have leaked from underground storage tanks and entered groundwater, you may be exposed from contaminated well water. You might breathe in some of the chemicals evaporating from a spill or leak site if you are in an area where an accident has occurred.

Workers involved in making or transporting jet fuels, aircraft or fuel tank maintenance, or in refueling aircraft that use JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels may be exposed to some of the chemicals that have evaporated from the fuel.

Workers in the vicinity of an aircraft during cold engine startup may also be exposed to airborne jet fuels.

Some workers may be exposed to JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels through their skin if they come into contact with them without adequate protection from gloves, boots, coveralls, or other protective clothing.

How can JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels enter and leave my body?

The chemicals in JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels can enter your body through your lungs, digestive tract, or skin. We do not have information on how much of the chemicals in JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels can pass into the bloodstream, but we do know that large amounts of some of the chemicals in jet fuels can easily do so.

Studies examining the absorption of jet fuels through the skin have shown that damage to the skin and the longer jet fuels stays on your skin will increase the amount of chemicals that will enter your body.

Once jet fuels enter your body, the chemicals in the fuel will be distributed throughout your body. A number of the chemicals in jet fuels were found in the blood, fat, brain, lungs, and liver following exposure to JP-8 in air.

Some of the chemicals in JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels will be broken down in the body to form other chemicals. The chemicals in JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels will be eliminated from the body in the urine, feces, or breath.

How JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels affect your health?

The health effects of JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels depend on how much of these fuels you are exposed to and for how long.

We know very little about the human health effects caused by JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels. A few studies of military personnel have provided suggestive evidence that JP-8 can affect the nervous system. Some of the effects that have been observed in humans include changes in reaction time and other tests of neurological function.

Humans who accidentally ingested kerosene, a fuel oil similar in composition to JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels, were reported as suffering harmful effects on the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system. The observed effects included cough and difficulty breathing, abdominal pain and vomiting, drowsiness, restlessness, and convulsions.

Studies in laboratory animals have examined the toxicity of JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels following inhalation, ingestion, or dermal contact. In most cases, the levels tested in laboratory animals are higher than levels the public might encounter through dermal contact with contaminated water or soil or by drinking contaminated water.

Health effects of JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels observed in these studies include damage to the liver, decreased immune response, impaired performance on neurological function tests, and impaired hearing.

Dermatitis and damage to the skin have also been observed in laboratory animals following dermal contact.

There are no reliable studies of cancer in humans exposed to JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels. A few studies that examined the possible association between exposure to various types of jet fuels or to kerosene and various types of cancer did not provide conclusive results. Because the studies involved exposure to several fuel types and there was no information on exposure concentrations, these studies were not considered adequate to assess the carcinogenicity of JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels.

No inhalation or oral studies evaluated the carcinogenicity of JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A. No increases in tumor incidences were observed in rats administered kerosene by a feeding tube for 2 years. JP-5 applied to the skin for 2 years was not carcinogenic in mice. Increases in skin tumors were observed in mice dermally exposed to Jet A for 52–62 weeks; however, tumors were only observed at concentrations resulting in damage to the skin. Similarly, increased numbers of skin tumors were observed in mice that received applications of undiluted kerosene on the skin for 2 years, but this occurred only in the presence of skin damage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the EPA have not classified JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels as to their carcinogenicity.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A as Group 3 carcinogens (not classifiable as to their carcinogenicity to humans).

How can JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels affect children?

Exposure JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels mainly occurs in occupational settings where children are unlikely to be exposed. No studies examining the health effects of JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels in children were found. There are a number of reports of accidental kerosene ingestion in children in developing countries where kerosene may typically be stored in containers and places easily accessible to children. Some of the more commonly reported effects include coughing, pneumonia, shortness of breath, vomiting, fever, unconsciousness, drowsiness, and irritability. These effects are similar to the effects seen in adults who ingest kerosene.

Studies in laboratory animals exposed to JP-8 during pregnancy did not find birth defects in the newborn animals. However, some effects on muscle coordination and immune function were found in the offspring.

How can families reduce the risk of exposure to JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels?

If your doctor finds that you have been exposed to significant amounts of JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels, ask whether your children or unborn baby might be at risk. Your doctor might need to ask your state health department to investigate. It is unlikely that you or your family will be exposed to JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels. Jet fuels are not likely to be common contaminants in foods or drinking water.

If you get JP-5, JP-8, or Jet A fuels on your work clothes, you should change your clothes before leaving your job and returning home.

Are there medical tests to determine whether I have been exposed to JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels?

Many of the individual chemicals found in JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels and their breakdown products (metabolites) can be measured in blood and urine. Finding these chemicals does not mean that you were exposed to jet fuels because these chemicals may have come from a different source including exposure to gasoline fumes when pumping gas. The levels of these chemicals in your body cannot predict the kind of health effects that might occur or whether you will have any effects. JP-5, JP-8, and Jet A fuels and their metabolites leave the body fairly rapidly and tests to detect these chemicals need to be conducted within days of exposure.

*****

It is pretty clear from reading interactions between Air Corps personnel and the Air Corps Formation Safety Office that the risk of injury from inhalation and absorption of jet fuel simply is not understood.

The consequence of this is that the actual risks are downplayed with risk assessments for fuel handling operations being declared as “Low Risk”. Risk assessments that are declared to be “Low Risk” are great for the FSO because they mean no further steps need to be taken.

A risk assessment completed by a suitably qualified person with the correct vigor will take into account the need for adequate PPE and also the need for risk specific health surveillance. 

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Immunotoxicology of JP-8 Jet Fuel

Abstract

Chronic jet fuel exposure could be detrimental to Air Force personnel, not only by adversely affecting their work performance but also by predisposing these individuals to increased incidences of infectious disease and cancer.

Chronic exposure to jet fuel has been shown to adversely affect human liver function, to cause emotional dysfunction, to cause abnormal electroencephalograms, to cause shortened attention spans, and to decrease sensorimotor speed.

Currently, there are no standards for personnel exposure to jet fuels of any kind, let alone JP-8 jet fuel. Kerosene based petroleum distillates have been associated with hepatic, renal, neurologic and pulmonary toxicity in animals models and human occupational exposures. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 1.3 million workers were exposed to jet fuels in 1992. Thus, jet fuel exposure may not only have serious consequences for USAF personnel, but also may have potential harmful effects upon a significant number of civilian workers.

Short-term 7 day JP-8 jet fuel exposure causes lung injury as evidenced by increased pulmonary resistance, a decrease in bronchoalveolar lavage concentrations of substance P, increased wet lung body weight ratio, and increased alveolar permeability. Long-term exposures, although demonstrating evidence of lung recovery, results in injury to secondary organs such as liver, kidneys and spleen.

Read full report at the US Defence Technical Information Centre here.

*****

The Irish Air Corps uses JetA1 with added fuel system icing inhibitor (FSII) which while being very similar to JP-8, is not identical as it is lacking some additives used in very high performance military engines.

But is very similar and almost all the health concerns related to JP-8 would be common to JetA1.

The Formation Safety Office at the Irish Air Corps believe refueling to be a “low risk” activity yet it appears to be driving IBS/ IBD havoc amongst personnel in Baldonnel who handle fuel. 

DELAY – DENY – DIE

Death rate among former Irish Air Corps personnel needs to be examined, expert says

Whistleblowers blame premature deaths on exposure to toxic chemicals without PPE

The rate of deaths among former Air Corps personnel who have been exposed to dangerous chemicals needs to be examined by the Government, a leading public health expert has said.

Anthony Staines, who is professor of health systems at DCU, said the number of former personnel who have died prematurely appears to be higher than what would be expected for that population.

Protected disclosures about the exposure of aircraft technicians to dangerous chemicals at Baldonnel Airfield were first made to the Government in 2015.

One of the whistleblowers, former Air Corps technician Gavin Tobin, has been keeping track of serious illnesses and premature deaths in former colleagues which he believes may have been caused by exposure to these substances without personal protective equipment (PPE).

As of Friday he had recorded 96 premature deaths resulting from a variety of illnesses, including heart problems and rare forms of cancer. The average age of those who died is 52, he said.

Prof Staines told The Irish Times he has examined the figures provided by Mr Tobin and found them “surprising”.

He said the death rate is not particularly out of step with the general population but that “this is a group of people where the death rate should be low!”.

Read full article by Conor Gallagher the Irish Times website…

*****

96 Untimely* deaths recorded in Irish Air Corps toxic chemical exposure tragedy

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 96 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 83 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 58 of these deaths have occurred since 2010
Either the rate of death is accelerating or we are missing many deaths from previous decades or possibly both.
 

3 most significant causes of death

  • 41% of deaths are from cancer
  • 27% deaths are from cardiac issues
  • 16% of deaths are from suicide (at least 15 suicides)

*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 52 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.

We are not stating that every single death is directly due to chemical exposure but many personnel who did not handle chemicals directly were unknowingly exposed due to close proximity to contaminated work locations.

95 Untimely deaths recorded in Irish Air Corps toxic chemical exposure tragedy

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 95 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 82 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 58 of these deaths have occurred since 2010
Either the rate of death is accelerating or we are missing many deaths from previous decades or possibly both.
 

3 most significant causes of death

  • 40% of deaths are from cancer
  • 27% deaths are from cardiac issues
  • 16% of deaths are from suicide (at least 15 suicides)
*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 52 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.

Worker claims he was exposed to toxic chemicals while working on refurbishment at Intel plant

A man who has claimed he was exposed to a toxic and noxious chemical while working on a refurbishment job at the Intel Ireland plant has launched a High Court action.

Seven years after the alleged exposure the prognosis for 71-year-old John Matthews w,ho suffers from shortness of breath, is chronic, his counsel Barney Quirke SC told the court.

The claims relate to the refurbishment of a clean room where microchips are manufactured at the Leixlip, Co Kildare, plant and the pouring of a chemical sealant known as Penatron ASTC 3003c

The case is being regarded as a test case for as many as 10 other actions being taken in the High Court in relation to alleged exposure.

Opening the case, Mr Quirke SC, with Richard Lyons SC, said the alleged exposure has had a cruel effect on the life of father-of-four John Matthews and his retirement is completely altered from what he expected.

His client worked as a carpenter and was involved in what were called pop outs where the chemical Penatron was poured.

Mr Matthews, of Ardee Road, Dundalk, Co Louth, has sued his employer Ardmac Ltd with a registered office at Swords Business Campus, Balheary Road, Swords, Co Dublin, and Intel Ireland Ltd with registered offices at Simmonscourt House, Simmonscourt Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin. The refurbishments works on an Intel clean room were being carried out by Ardmac at the Leixlip plant.

Mr Matthews has claimed between June 2013 and October 2014 he was allegedly exposed to toxic and noxious chemicals including Penatron/ASTC 3003c while he was working at the plant.

He has also claimed a number of his co-employees were allegedly exposed to known carcinogens.

Read full article on the Irish Independent website…

*****

A considerable number of Irish Air Corps have gone on to work in Intel and have generally been astounded by the high levels of chemical health & safety employed there.

While it is very disappointing to hear of personnel being injured at Intel it just goes to show that even with a high quality health & safety regime dangerous exposures can still happen. 

The Irish Air Corps on the other hand had dangerous chemicals dripping down the walls from extractor fans yet still claim that Air Corps personnel were not exposed to dangerous chemicals. Safety was so poor in the Irish Air Corps that personnel didn’t even know what PPE was, it wasn’t part of the lexicon. 

Below is the safety data sheet for the sealant alleged to have caused harm in Intel. The dangerous chemical components of this sealant are called isocyanates. Isocyanates are notorious immune sensitisers and were the class of chemicals involved in the Bhopal disaster. Persons sensitised to isocyanates can suffer asthma attacks & anaphylaxis at levels as low as one part per billion. Furthermore sensitisation to one isocyanate like HDI can lead to a cross sensitisation to other isocyanates like MDI or TDI etc. 

The Spray Paint Shop at Casement Aerodrome emitted hexamethylene diisocyanate on a daily basis as a component of polyurethane paint, these emissions contaminated Engineering Wing Hangar while other personnel went about their unrelated daily business.

BFTS personnel were also exposed to methyl-diphenyl diisocyanate when they filled barrels with expanding foam for air firing at Gormanston.

If anyone who has lost a loved one before age 66, who had worked in the Irish Air Corps as military or civilian personnel or as work experience students please feel free to contact the Irish Independent journalist Rodney Edwards via email to redwards@independent.ie 

If you are serving or former personnel and if you are sick because of your service or if were or are being bullied for being sick please consider emailing Rodney too.

Veterans say Irish Air Corps to blame over health problems caused by (unprotected) exposure to toxic chemicals at work

Former airman Gary Coll can’t walk without the aid of a stick. He wakes up in pain each morning and suffers from a slow heart rate, memory loss, severe anxiety, and chronic fatigue — which he blames on having been exposed to dangerous chemicals while serving in the Air Corps over 20 years ago.

Registered disabled at the age of 35, Coll says he has suffered a litany of health problems over the years as a result, including stomach ulcers and bowel, thermo-regulation, and urinary issues.

His colleague Pat Reilly suffers a litany of problems too. They feel ignored by the State. In today’s Sunday Independent, they share their stories.

Read full article by Rodney Edwards on Sunday Independent website…

*****

36 men and 1 woman have died since a protected disclosure was made to Minister Simon Coveney in 2015. Minister Coveney has done absolutely nothing to provide targeted healthcare for  exposed personnel since this date despite damning findings by the HSA which the Department of Defence continue to try to downplay.

If anyone who has lost a loved one before age 66, who had worked in the Irish Air Corps as military or civilian personnel or as work experience students please feel free to contact the Irish Independent journalist Rodney Edwards via email to redwards@independent.ie 

If you are serving or former personnel and if you are sick because of your service or if were or are being bullied for being sick please consider emailing Rodney too.