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Engineering Controls Database

Control of Exposure to Jet Fuel

Exposure to jet fuel may occur during fuel handling, jet maintenance, and working on the flight line.
At high concentrations, jet fuel can affect the nervous system, causing headache, dizziness, and lack of coordination. Effects of exposure may also include irritation of the skin, nose, throat, and digestive tract; nausea, vomiting, transient excitation followed by nervous system depression, pulmonary edema and pneumonitis. Compounds found in jet fuel may act as endocrine disruptors and, therefore, may cause reduced fertility in women. Jet fuel tanks are considered enclosed spaces and require appropriate entry precautions.
In the late 1990’s NIOSH was part of a multiagency project addressing occupational safety and health concerns about jet fuel tank maintenance and repair operations. In April 1998, NIOSH participated in the first International Conference on the Environmental Health and Safety of Jet Fuel in San Antonio, TX. NIOSH researchers presented data from a video/real-time monitoring fuel tank entry system. The objective of this study was to identify sources of exposure and intervention points to eliminate or reduce exposure to jet fuel. During the study, instruments were used to monitor the breathing zone of workers to ascertain their exposure to jet fuels as they entered jet fuel tanks. The exposures were recorded every second. Simultaneously, an 8-mm video camera was used to record workers’ activities. The data from the exposures and video were then synchronized. The systematic approach was designed to help identify the sources of worker exposures and to provide an effective means for communicating the results to workers and management. Feedback to workers and management included: (1) the highest exposures occurred when opening dryers on KC-10 aircraft, (2) air exhausted out of building with flexible duct reduces exposure to other workers on Boeing 737-300 aircraft, and (3) in summary workers needed respiratory protection and CPC training and a means to cool workers.

In June 1999, NIOSH participated at American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition in Toronto, Canada. Information was provided by NIOSH at the conference on the operational issues of supplied-air respiratory systems. Evaluations were done at 18 United States Air Force, 3 National Guard, and 4 commercial airline maintenance facilities. Many problems were identified during the evaluations and appropriate solutions developed. For example, some of the problems noted included: (1) breathing air compressor systems were found housed in an unventilated equipment room with an oil-type pneumatic tool compressor, (2) employee parking or equipment delivery were located outside equipment rooms where carbon monoxide and other engine exhausts were being drawn the breathing air intake, and (3) low pressure and CO alarm systems were found bypassed, uncalibrated, and poorly maintained.
241-05-A; 241-05-B; 241-05-C; 241-05-D; 241-05-E; 241-05-F; 241-05-G; 241-05-H;
airplane flight line workers
airplane maintenance
airplane maintenance workers