Health hazard evaluation report, HETA-2004-0101-2953, Transportation Security Administration, Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), Linthicum, Maryland.
On January 21, 2004, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a health hazard evaluation (HHE) request from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) in Linthicum, Maryland. The HHE request concerned potential health hazards among TSA workers in the "checked" baggage screening areas from exposure to contaminants found in exhaust emissions of tug and jet engines and noise from tugs, jets, conveyor systems, and baggage carousels in the checked baggage screening area. Reported health problems included respiratory distress, dizziness, possible hearing loss, and headaches. An initial site visit was made on April 1, 2004. On July 15-16, 2004, NIOSH investigators conducted area and personal breathing zone (PBZ) air samples for carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitric oxide (NO), diesel exhaust particulate (measured as elemental carbon [EC]), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Fullshift personal noise monitoring was also conducted. Concentrations of EC, a surrogate for diesel exhaust, ranged from 4 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3) to 24 microg/m3 with an airport-wide average of 11 microg/m3. There is no NIOSH evaluation criterion for EC; however, the California Department of Health Services recommends keeping exposure levels below 20 microg/m3. PBZ concentrations of NO2 and NO ranged from "trace" to 0.19 parts per million (ppm). Area air samples of NO2 and NO collected in the vicinity of workers ranged from "trace" to 0.13 ppm. Nondetectable NO2 results (<0.1 ppm) were obtained from real time personal exposure monitors (full-shift and 15-minute short-term exposures) and were in agreement with the other method used to measure NO2 exposure. PBZ exposure for CO ranged from non-detectable (<0.1 ppm) to 2 ppm (full-shift Time-Weighted Average [TWA]) and from non-detectable to 3 ppm (15-minute short-term exposures). Instantaneous peak values ranged from 2 to 221 ppm. Exposure to VOC's, including isopropanol and toluene, were very low. Noise dosimetry results indicated no appreciable risk for occupational noise induced hearing loss at BWI. However, a few areas (i.e., Air Tran and Delta) do have noise levels that are high enough to warrant further evaluation. The NIOSH investigators determined that a hazard does not exist from exposure to EC, CO, CO2, NO2, NO or VOCs. The sampling results indicate that, on average, none of the exposures exceeded occupational exposure limits. The measured noise levels provide little evidence of a serious noise problem. Recommendations for maintaining the air quality and further reducing noise exposures are provided in the Recommendations Section of this report.