Background: Jet propulsion fuel-8 (JP-8) is the primary jet fuel used by the US military, collectively consuming ~2.5 billion gallons annually. Previous reports suggest that JP-8 is potentially toxic to the immune, respiratory, and nervous systems. The objectives of this study were to evaluate inhalation exposure to JP-8 constituents among active duty United States Air Force (USAF) personnel while performing job-related tasks, identify significant predictors of inhalation exposure to JP-8, and evaluate the extent to which surrogate exposure classifications were predictive of measured JP-8 exposures.
Methods: Seventy-three full-time USAF personnel from three different air force bases were monitored during four consecutive workdays where personal air samples were collected and analyzed for benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylenes, total hydrocarbons (THC), and naphthalene. The participants were categorized a priori into high- and low-exposure groups, based on their exposure to JP-8 during their typical workday. Additional JP-8 exposure categories included job title groups and self-reported exposure to JP-8. Linear mixed-effects models were used to evaluate predictors of personal air concentrations.
Results: The concentrations of THC in air were significantly different between a priori exposure groups (2.6 mg m(-3) in high group versus 0.5 mg m(-3) in low, P < 0.0001), with similar differences observed for other analytes in air. Naphthalene was strongly correlated with THC (r = 0.82, P < 0.0001) and both were positively correlated with the relative humidity of the work environment. Exposures to THC and naphthalene varied significantly by job categories based on USAF specialty codes and were highest among personnel working in fuel distribution/maintenance, though self-reported exposure to JP-8 was an even stronger predictor of measured exposure in models that explained 72% (THC) and 67% (naphthalene) of between-worker variability. In fact, both self-report JP-8 exposure and a priori exposure groups explained more between-worker variability than job categories.
Conclusions: Personal exposure to JP-8 varied by job and was positively associated with the relative humidity. However, self-reported exposure to JP-8 was an even stronger predictor of measured exposure than job title categories, suggesting that self-reported JP-8 exposure is a valid surrogate metric of exposure when personal air measurements are not available.