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workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

927ZGNV - Detection of DNA Damage in Workers Exposed to JP-8 Jet Fuel

Start Date: 10/1/2008
End Date: 9/30/2010

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Mary Butler
Phone: 513-533-8403
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DART
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goal Addressed


Attributed to Manufacturing


Project Description

Short Summary

The objective of this project, Detection of DNA Damage in Workers Exposed to JP-8 Jet Fuel, is to characterize the genotoxic health hazard associated with occupational exposure to jet propulsion fuel-8 (JP-8) and its civilian equivalents. Genotoxic hazard evaluation will be accomplished using existing exposure data and biological specimens archived from a research study conducted with the USAF in 2000. This research targets goals in the Cancer, Reproductive and Cardiovascular Diseases cross-sector and the Transportation and Manufacturing Sectors. Expected outputs include new data on the genotoxicity of jet fuel in humans, and potential outcomes including the development of risk communication products, engineering controls and personal protective practices and new occupational health policies which will result in reduced exposures and improved health to all workers exposed to jet fuel.


The overall objective of this project is to characterize the potential genotoxic health hazard associated with occupational exposure to jet propulsion fuel-8 (JP-8) and its civilian equivalents in both military and civilian occupations. Genotoxic hazard evaluation will be accomplished using existing exposure data to JP-8 from the Acute Exposure to Jet Fuel (AEJF) study, a collaborative research project with the USAF that was conducted in 2000 and by quantitating DNA damage in leukocytes from whole blood specimens archived from the 316 of these workers. DNA damage will be evaluated using the Comet Assay (single-cell gel electrophoresis) and will be conducted by a contract scientist who is recognized world wide as an expert in this assay. Comet Assay results are proving to be the most sensitive and frequently used biomarker of genotoxicity in occupational settings. The assay detects DNA single strand breaks, double strand breaks, abasic sites, and transient breaks occurring during DNA repair that are caused by a wide variety of genotoxic agents. DNA damage is considered to be an initial step towards development of cancer and a precursor of occupational disease (cancer). NIOSH researchers will use the quantitative JP-8 exposure determinations obtained from breath, dermal, and urinary metabolite measurements of components in JP-8, all of which are now available from our collaborators, to determine if DNA damage is significantly different between low, moderate and high exposures groups, and if there is a dose-response related to exposure. Naphthalene in exhaled breath was reported to be a useful surrogate for exposure to jet fuel in the AEJF study (Egeghy et al, 2003). Whole body exposure to naphthalene determined using a skin tape-stripping method was also reported to be a useful marker of exposure to uptake of JP-8 and its components in that research (Chao et al, 2005; Kim et al, 2007). The urinary metabolite of the deicing agent in JP-8 is also used as a biological indicator of exposure (Butler et al, 2007; B'Hymer et al, 2005). All collaborators in this proposal have a proven record of expertise and success.


FY09: Complete quantification of DNA damage in all blood specimens from the collaborative

U.S. Air Force study using the Comet Assay. Establish contacts with partners and stakeholders in the transportation and manufacturing industries.

FY10: Analyze and interpret data to determine if there is a significant difference in DNA damage between workers in low, moderate, and high JP-8 occupational exposure groups. Determine if there is a dose-response between exposure and DNA damage. Share the results of the research with our partners and stakeholders who can evaluate and improve procedures to reduce exposure to jet fuel in both military and civilian occupational settings. Submit manuscripts and present data at national meetings.

Evaluate success in meeting objectives by accepted presentations and publications, observation of citations to publications and partner initiated contacts with project officer.

Mission Relevance

The NIOSH mission is to provide national and world leadership to prevent work related illness, injury, and death by gathering information, conducting scientific research, and translating the knowledge gained into products and services. This project is one of many that are necessary to conduct to fulfill that mission. Over 1.3 million workers in the U.S. are potentially exposed to jet fuel and there are no adequate data to determine if their exposure results in the damage to DNA that is considered to be an initial step towards development of cancer and a precursor of occupational disease (cancer). This project will provide data to determine if exposure to JP-8, a representative jet fuel, is a genotoxic health hazard. Occupational exposures occur in workers in several sectors, including transportation and manufacturing and in the Department of Defense. Exposure occurs during production, transportation and storage of jet fuel, aircraft fueling and defueling, cold engine starts, maintenance of airplanes and fuel-cells, in support activities on airport aprons and in additional uses of JP-8 in the military such as a fuel for tanks and ground vehicles, a solvent, and in tent heaters. The highest exposures to JP-8 occur in fuel handlers who perform maintenance inside fuel tanks. This research will contribute to reducing the incidence of work-related cancers by conducting research to reduce work-related cancers by assessing worker exposures and pre-cancerous effects of exposure through analysis of biological specimens; reducing illnesses, injuries and fatalities in the air transportation industry by identifying and evaluating factors associated with illness; and improve the understanding of occupational risk and protective factors in, and develop appropriate interventions for the manufacturing industry through exposure assessment research for chemical exposures.

This project addresses the cancer activity/output goal 1.1.2 (09PPCRCAOG1.1.2) "Assess worker exposures, pre-cancerous effects of exposure or susceptibility to high-priority carcinogens through industry-wide surveys, population-based studies, or analysis of biological specimens" in the Cancer, Reproductive, and Cardiovascular Diseases Cross-Sector. It targets Strategic Goal 6 (09PPMNFSG6) of the Manufacturing Sector "Reduce the prevalence of cancer due to exposures in the manufacturing sector". In addition, it addresses Activity Goal 4.2.1 (09PPTWUAOG4.2.1) of the Transportation Sector "Identify prevalence and disease recognition resulting from hazards and exposures identified in Table 1. This table lists exposures of concern, including chemicals. JP-8 is the chemical of single largest potential exposure in the transportation.