Health hazard evaluation report, HETA-2004-0130-2945, Transportation Security Administration-Palm Beach International Airport, West Palm Beach, Florida.
On February 6, 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 Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida. The HHE request concerned health hazards 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. The request also described ergonomic hazards and heat stress as potential workplace hazards. These latter hazards will be addressed in a separate evaluation. Reported health problems included allergies, respiratory distress, repetitive stress injuries, back injuries, possible hearing loss, and dehydration due to heat. An initial site visit was made on March 24, 2004. On April 17-18, 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). Full-shift personal noise monitoring was also conducted. Concentrations of EC, a surrogate for diesel exhaust, ranged from below the minimum detectable concentration (MDC) to 11.2 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3). There is no NIOSH evaluation criteria for EC, although the California Department of Health Services recommends keeping levels below 20 microg/m3. PBZ concentrations of NO2 and NO were below the limit of detection of 2 microg/sample. Similar nondetectable NO2 results were obtained from real time personal exposure monitors (full-shift and 15-minute short-term exposures). All but one PBZ exposure for CO ranged from non-detected to 1 part per million (ppm) (full-shift Time-Weighted Average [TWA]) and from non-detected to 8 ppm (15-minute short-term exposures). One employee working at Explosive Detection System (EDS) machine 6 measured an instantaneous peak exposure of 1150 ppm on the first day of sampling. This employee's TWA and short-term exposures were 10 ppm and 284 ppm respectively. VOCs were identified via thermal desorption tubes and quantified via charcoal tubes. The dominant compounds identified were isopropyl alcohol, acetone, benzene, toluene, and xylenes. Charcoal tube analysis found trace levels of acetone and low levels of isopropyl alcohol. Airborne concentrations of benzene, toluene, xylenes, and total hydrocarbons were below their respective MDCs. The OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for noise of 90 A-weighted decibels [dB(A)] was not exceeded in any of the 15 dosimeter samples. There was, however, one instance in the Lane 1 area where the OSHA Action Level (AL) was greater than 50% and two instances (Lane 1 and Lane 7) where the NIOSH criterion exceeded 100%. Area spectral noise measurements indicated that at each of the nine EDS baggage screening machines there is a great deal of lower frequency (<250 Hz) sound energy in the area, and that the output side of the machine is a few decibels greater than the input side of the machine. However, none of the A-weighted values approach the NIOSH criterion of 85 dBA. 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 none of the chemicals were detected at concentrations exceeding occupational exposure limits. Therefore, an inhalation hazard to those compounds did not exist at the time of the NIOSH visit. 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.