Transport medicine personnel are potentially exposed to jet fuel combustion products. Setting-specific data are required to determine whether this poses a risk.
This study assessed exposure to jet fuel combustion products, compared various engine ignition scenarios, and determined methods to minimize exposure.
The Beechcraft King Air B200 turboprop aircraft equipped with twin turbine engines, using a kerosene-based jet fuel (Jet A-1), was used to measure products of combustion during boarding, engine startup, and flight in three separate engine start scenarios ("shielded": internal engine start, door closed; "exposed": ground power unit start, door open; and "minimized": ground power unit right engine start, door open). Real-time continuous monitoring equipment was used for oxygen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter. Integrated methods were used for aldehydes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, and aliphatic hydrocarbons. Samples were taken in the paramedic breathing zone for approximately 60 minutes, starting just before the paramedics boarded the aircraft. Data were compared against regulated time-weighted exposure thresholds to determine the presence of potentially harmful products of combustion.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aldehydes, volatile organic compounds, and aliphatic hydrocarbons were found at very low concentrations or beneath the limits of detection. There were significant differences in exposures to particulates, carbon monoxide, and total volatile organic compound between the "exposed" and "minimized" scenarios. Elevated concentrations of carbon monoxide and total volatile organic compounds were present during the ground power unit-assisted dual-engine start. There were no appreciable exposures during the "minimized" or "shielded" scenarios.
Air medical personnel exposures to jet fuel combustion products were generally low and did not exceed established U.S. or Canadian health and safety exposure limits. Avoidance of ground power unit-assisted dual-engine starts and closing the hangar door prior to start minimize or eliminate the occupational exposure.