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Hazard assessment of exposure to ammunition-related constituents and combustion products

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Applied Vehicle Technology

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Ammunition-related constituents, Combustion products, Emission products, Hazard assessment, modified composition, munition-weapon combination


During military activities, personnel will be exposed to a variety of chemicals, among other ammunition-related compounds. During the use of ammunition (active duty and training) gasses, aerosols and even unburnt propellants will emitted, which can inhaled, ingested or can be deposited on skin (dermal exposure). Over the years it has been attempted to obtain more insight into the identity of these emitted products. Ballistic models are used for the prediction of emission products during firing of ammunition. Unfortunately this does not suffice due to the assumption of ideal combustion conditions and not taking into account what happens during the time span between the components leaving the barrel of the weapon and exposure of the shooter/personnel. In Europe and also many countries outside of Europe the awareness arises regarding exposure to chemicals and legislations are developed such as Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of Chemicals (REACH). Ammunition is also covered by this legislation, however, currently only with respect to the ingredients and not the reaction / emission products formed during functioning of the ammunition article. At the moment there is a trend to modify compositions in order to meet the REACH requirements. However, the influence on the combustion products that are formed from such modified compositions is not taken into account yet. It can be envisaged that emission/combustion products will eventually become part of the REACH legislation for ammunition because of the high exposure potential to these emission products. Since it is important that military personnel will stay ‘fit for service’ this topic is relevant for NATO. The impact of ammunition on their environment (which includes the impact of exposure to military personnel) falls within the, by NATO defined, Science and technology Priority PE-3 (Weapons-Effect) . The toxicology of ammunition-related compounds and combustion products is still a large knowledge gap. This gap needs to be filled in order to allow adequate risk management of (the unavoidable) exposure to these compounds. Ideally, emission products can be predicted for all munition article-weapon combination without performing an enormous number of experiments for each combination under various environmental conditions, To be able to do this, it is essential to understand the parameters and/or combinations thereof, which have a significant influence on the combustion reaction and formed emission products. If this process is understood the step towards exposure scenarios and assessment of the resulting hazards can be addressed, eventually enabling adequate risk management. Not only the evaluation of current ammunition will profit from this approach, also development of new compositions would become more efficient when it is possible to predict the final degree of combustion/emission products “hazard”, at an early stage of the ammunition development. Reaching this ultimate objective will take a considerable effort and time. In this task group the first steps will be taken towards this final goal.


To provide guidance for designing an approach for prediction of health hazards resulting from exposure of military personnel to ammunition-related constituents and combustion products thereof, in order to provide a base for risk management.


- Collecting data from NATO-partners and perform a literature survey on emission products of ammunition-related constituents and combustion products, identification of data/knowledge gaps; - Evaluation of the pros and cons of models that can predict the combustion products originating from ammunition and recommendations for their improvement; - Recommendations on how to fill the data/knowledge gaps, with prioritization; - Assessment of exposure to these compounds - Approach to hazard assessment - Recommendations for a risk management system for exposure to ammunition-related constituents and combustion products

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