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Risk management of exposure to ammunition-related compounds and combustion products thereof under operational conditions
















Ammunition-related compounds; Combustion products; Operational conditions; Acute health effects; Long-term health effects; Risk management; ‘Green’ammunition’; Environmental effects


Participation in military operations is accompanied by a variety of health hazards, including those resulting from exposure to toxic chemicals. Military personnel can be exposed to numerous chemicals, but in general three kinds of exposures may be discerned: 1. voluntary exposure to compounds, intended to prevent more serious health problems, e.g. permethrin, DEET, anti-malaria prophylaxis; 2. more or less unavoidable exposure to compounds that are closely associated with military operations, e.g. fuels, exhaust gases, ammunition-related compounds and combustion products thereof; 3. exposure to contaminants in the operational environment, whose presence is often unknown prior to the operation, and/or accidental or intentional release of chemicals, e.g. Toxic Industrial Chemicals, particulate matter, chemical agents Some incidents have occurred with type 1 exposures, but generally these exposures are reasonably well controlled. It is not always possible to anticipate type 3 exposures and thus to take appropriate mitigating measures, so various incidents involving such exposures have been reported. However, type 2 exposures are of most concern. Surprisingly little is known about the toxicology of ammunition-related compounds and the combustion products thereof, probably because focus has mainly been on ballistic properties and explosion safety issues. The awareness that the use of ammunition is accompanied by hazards from exposure to toxic substances is growing. Military personnel may be exposed to ammunition-related toxic substances during manipulations with intact ammunition items (plastics), upon firing ammunition (combustion products) and via a contaminated environment (TNT, depleted uranium). Adequate risk management approaches to prevent adverse health effects on a short and long term are needed. Within this context, it is important to realize that the conditions under which military personnel is exposed during operations and exercises differ from the ‘normal’ occupational health conditions, for instance 24h a day for 3-6 months often in repetitive cycles as opposed to 8h per day for 5 days a week, a working life long, heat, physical and psychological stress, etc. Consequently, these issues need to be addressed in a different way. Elements of a risk management system include monitoring the integral military working environment for toxic substances, evaluation of the risk resulting from exposure to these substances and personal (bio)monitoring. Since it is important that military personnel is and stays ‘fit for service’ this subject is relevant for NATO. The toxicology of ammunition-related compounds and combustion products is still largely a knowledge gap. This gap needs to be filled in order to allow adequate risk management of exposure to such compounds. 


To provide guidance for design of a system for risk management of exposure of military personnel to ammunition-related compounds and combustion products thereof, under operational conditions. 


- Literature survey on toxicology of ammunition-related compounds and combustion products thereof, identification of data/knowledge gaps; - Recommendations on how to fill the data/knowledge gaps, with prioritization; - Monitoring the operational environme






Created at 01/10/2014 10:15 by System Account
Last modified at 02/11/2014 16:26 by System Account