Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-99-0342-2821, U.S. Airways/Charlotte Aircraft Support Center, Charlotte, North Carolina.
On September 15, 1999, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a confidential employee request for a health hazard evaluation (HHE) at the U.S. Airways/Charlotte Aircraft Support Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The request indicated some employees at this location have experienced health problems possibly associated with their workplace. Health problems identified in the request included headaches, chest pain, sore throat, and eye irritation. The Composite Shop, Engine Shop, and Wheel and Brake Shop were identified as the primary areas of concern. Potential exposures identified included emissions from cleaning solvents during cleaning, repairing, and reassembling aircraft parts. A nearby landfill and emissions from contaminated groundwater were also identified as potential sources of exposures. On January 6-7, 2000, NIOSH investigators conducted an initial site visit at the Aircraft Support Center to review the current status of the health problems with plant workers and inspect the facility, observe work practices, and review chemical handling activities. During a follow up site visit on June 20-21, 2000, personal breathing zone (PBZ) air sampling was conducted to assess worker exposure to respirable and inhalable particulates and various metals. Bulk samples from the ventilation system in the sanding room and the brake teardown area were collected to determine the metals that were present. An area air sample for total fibers was obtained in the sanding room. All measured concentrations of air contaminants were below applicable NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs), American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) threshold limit values (TLVs), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limits (PELs). Previous in-plant air monitoring of volatile organic compounds, as an indicator of contamination from the landfill, revealed no hazardous exposures. The medical records of two workers who reported the most severe health problems were reviewed. The medical records indicated that the workers had lung problems that were possibly work-related. However, neither the medical records nor the NIOSH HHE identified a likely cause of the health problems. Employee exposures to metals and particulates in the Composite and Brake shops were below established standards. The nearby landfill does not present an exposure hazard to workers. Although at least two workers may have had work-related lung problems, neither their medical records nor the NIOSH HHE identified a specific likely cause. Recommendations were made to improve personal protection programs, proper labeling of solvent tanks, conduct additional industrial hygiene monitoring, and the development of an appropriate spill prevention strategy in the Phosphoric Acid Non-Tank Anodizing (PANTA) area.
Hazard-Unconfirmed; Aircraft; Aircraft-parts-and-auxiliary-equipment; Region-4; Respiratory-irritants; Maintenance-workers; Metal-compounds; Eye-irritants; Particulate-dust; Solvents; Fibrous-dusts; Volatiles; Organic-compounds; Respiratory-system-disorders; Ventilation; Repair-shops; Phosphorous-compounds; Pulmonary-system-disorders