Health hazard evaluation report, HETA-2004-0100-2946, Transportation Security Administration, Dulles International Airport, Dulles, Virginia.
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 Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Dulles, Virginia. The HHE request concerned health hazards from exposure to contaminants found in exhaust emissions of tug and jet engines and noise from tugs, jets, conveyors, and baggage carousels in the checked baggage screening area. Reported health problems included respiratory distress, dizziness, possible hearing loss, and headaches. On July 12-13, 2004, NIOSH investigators collected ambient air 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 3.2 to 26 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3). There is no NIOSH evaluation criterion for EC; the California Department of Health Services recommends keeping levels below 20 microg/m3. PBZ concentrations of NO2 and NO ranged from trace (defined as between 0.04 and 0.20 parts per million [ppm]) to 0.38 ppm. PBZ exposure for CO ranged from 1 to 8 ppm (full-shift Time-Weighted Average [TWA]) and from 1 to 19 ppm (15-minute short-term exposures). The dominant VOCs were isopropyl alcohol, toluene, and low molecular weight hydrocarbons. All were found at very low levels. Noise levels for 4 of 16 employees monitored (3 in West baggage, 1 in Southeast baggage) exceeded the NIOSH REL for instituting a hearing conservation program. Other employees surveyed did not have excessive noise exposures that would increase their risk for occupational noise-induced hearing loss. The NIOSH investigators determined that a hazard does not exist from exposure to EC, CO, CO2, NO2, NO, or VOCs. On average, none of the chemicals were detected at concentrations exceeding occupational exposure limits at the time of the NIOSH visit. Some tug emissions were elevated when compared to ambient levels and could contribute to an increase in air contaminants in some baggage areas. There was 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.