Is service with the parachute regiment bad for your health?
Military parachuting is perceived to be a 'high risk' activity. The estimate of risk should be based on a comparison of injury rates between soldiers who are military parachutists and soldiers who are not military parachutists rather than the rate of injury per parachute descent. Since other aspects of military life also have an inherent risk of injury the risk attributable to military parachuting must be assessed in this context. The aim of this paper is to determine whether Parachute Regiment soldiers have a greater risk of injury as compared with non-Parachute Regiment infantry soldiers by comparing rates of hospital admission and medical discharge between the two groups. Records at the Defence Analytical Services Agency were analysed for the 10-year period 1987-96. The mean rate of hospital admission for Parachute Regiment soldiers was 50.1 per 1,000 and for infantry soldiers was 50.8 per 1,000 [relative risk (RR) = 0.98; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.92-1.04). The mean rate of medical discharge for Parachute Regiment soldiers was 4.9 per 1,000 and for infantry the mean rate was 2.8 per 1,000 (RR = 1.76; CI = 1.45-2.15). This study has shown a methodology for comparing occupational exposure to risk that could be extended to other groups if they can be separated by appropriate criteria. (+info)
What is the risk associated with being a qualified military parachutist?
Military parachuting has been recognized as a hazardous activity since it was first introduced in World War II. Other risks associated with military service include actual war-fighting, training with weapons and explosives, operating with armoured vehicles or deployment to climatic extremes. These other hazards should be considered in any assessment of the additional risk associated with military parachuting. The aim of this study was to identify the risk attributable to parachuting amongst US Army enlisted soldiers. This study identified a cohort of infantry soldiers who served between 1990-94. They were separated by receipt of parachute hazardous duty pay. There was a total of 329,794 person-years (PY) available for study of which 18% were in the exposed group. The rate of hospitalization was very similar in both groups [123.9 per 1,000 PYs for the exposed group, 127 in the non-exposed group: relative risk (RR) = 0.98, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.96-1.00). The exposed group was 1.49 times (CI = 1.42-1.57) more likely to be admitted as a result of an injury as compared with the non-exposed group. Military parachuting was 20 times (CI = 16.6-24.3) more likely to be the cause of an injury. This study has shown that receipt of hazardous duty pay for military parachuting can be used as a marker in identifying significant additional risks to the health of infantry soldiers associated with military parachuting. This was reflected in an increased incidence of admission for acute injury and musculoskeletal trauma (particularly a trauma pattern associated with parachuting) as a result of military parachuting. Other risks, which are associated with parachute pay, are admission for the effects of heat, battle injury and helicopter accidents. (+info)
Personal exposure to JP-8 jet fuel vapors and exhaust at air force bases.
JP-8 jet fuel (similar to commercial/international jet A-1 fuel) is the standard military fuel for all types of vehicles, including the U.S. Air Force aircraft inventory. As such, JP-8 presents the most common chemical exposure in the Air Force, particularly for flight and ground crew personnel during preflight operations and for maintenance personnel performing routine tasks. Personal exposure at an Air Force base occurs through occupational exposure for personnel involved with fuel and aircraft handling and/or through incidental exposure, primarily through inhalation of ambient fuel vapors. Because JP-8 is less volatile than its predecessor fuel (JP-4), contact with liquid fuel on skin and clothing may result in prolonged exposure. The slowly evaporating JP-8 fuel tends to linger on exposed personnel during their interaction with their previously unexposed colleagues. To begin to assess the relative exposures, we made ambient air measurements and used recently developed methods for collecting exhaled breath in special containers. We then analyzed for certain volatile marker compounds for JP-8, as well as for some aromatic hydrocarbons (especially benzene) that are related to long-term health risks. Ambient samples were collected by using compact, battery-operated, personal whole-air samplers that have recently been developed as commercial products; breath samples were collected using our single-breath canister method that uses 1-L canisters fitted with valves and small disposable breathing tubes. We collected breath samples from various groups of Air Force personnel and found a demonstrable JP-8 exposure for all subjects, ranging from slight elevations as compared to a control cohort to > 100 [mutilpe] the control values. This work suggests that further studies should be performed on specific issues to obtain pertinent exposure data. The data can be applied to assessments of health outcomes and to recommendations for changes in the use of personal protective equipment that optimize risk reduction without undue impact on a mission. (+info)
Error, stress, and teamwork in medicine and aviation: cross sectional surveys.
OBJECTIVES: To survey operating theatre and intensive care unit staff about attitudes concerning error, stress, and teamwork and to compare these attitudes with those of airline cockpit crew. DESIGN: : Cross sectional surveys. SETTING: : Urban teaching and non-teaching hospitals in the United States, Israel, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Major airlines around the world. PARTICIPANTS: : 1033 doctors, nurses, fellows, and residents working in operating theatres and intensive care units and over 30 000 cockpit crew members (captains, first officers, and second officers). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: : Perceptions of error, stress, and teamwork. RESULTS: : Pilots were least likely to deny the effects of fatigue on performance (26% v 70% of consultant surgeons and 47% of consultant anaesthetists). Most pilots (97%) and intensive care staff (94%) rejected steep hierarchies (in which senior team members are not open to input from junior members), but only 55% of consultant surgeons rejected such hierarchies. High levels of teamwork with consultant surgeons were reported by 73% of surgical residents, 64% of consultant surgeons, 39% of anaesthesia consultants, 28% of surgical nurses, 25% of anaesthetic nurses, and 10% of anaesthetic residents. Only a third of staff reported that errors are handled appropriately at their hospital. A third of intensive care staff did not acknowledge that they make errors. Over half of intensive care staff reported that they find it difficult to discuss mistakes. CONCLUSIONS: Medical staff reported that error is important but difficult to discuss and not handled well in their hospital. Barriers to discussing error are more important since medical staff seem to deny the effect of stress and fatigue on performance. Further problems include differing perceptions of teamwork among team members and reluctance of senior theatre staff to accept input from junior members. (+info)
Cancer incidence among Norwegian airline pilots.
OBJECTIVES: In this retrospective cohort study, the cancer incidence of commercial pilots was studied to determine whether exposure at work has any influence on the incidence of cancer. METHODS: The cohort was established from the files of the Civil Aviation Administration and included people who had valid licenses as commercial pilots between 1946 and 1994. Basic data about their flight careers were recorded, and exposure to cosmic radiation was estimated. The cohort was linked to the Cancer Register of Norway. The observed number of cases was compared with that expected based on national rates. RESULTS: A group of 3701 male pilots was followed over 70 560 person-years. There were 200 cases of cancer versus 188.8 expected, with a standardized incidence ratio (SIR) of 1.06 and a 95% confidence interval (95% CI) of 0.92-1.22. No significant decreased risk was found for any cancer site. Excess risks were found for malignant melanoma (22 cases SIR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1-2.7) and nonmelanoma skin cancer (14 cases, SIR 2.4, 95% CI 1.3-4.0). For malignant melanoma, there was a significant trend for the SIR by cumulative dose. CONCLUSIONS: For most cancer sites, the incidence among pilots did not deviate from that of the general population and could not be related to block hours of flight time or dose. It seems more likely that the excess risks of malignant melanoma and skin cancer are explained by factors related to life-style rather than by conditions at work. (+info)
Changes in the ocular and nasal signs and symptoms of aircrews in relation to the ban on smoking on intercontinental flights.
OBJECTIVES: This study determined the influence of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in aircraft on measured and perceived cabin air quality (CAQ), symptoms, tear-film stability, nasal patency, and biomarkers in nasal lavage fluid. METHODS: Commercial aircrews underwent a standardized examination, including acoustic rhinometry, nasal lavage, and measurement of tear-film break-up time. Eosinophilic cationic protein, myeloperoxidase, lysozyme, and albumin were analyzed in the nasal lavage fluid. Inflight investigations [participation rate 98% (N=39)] were performed on board 4 flights, 2 in each direction between Scandinavia and Japan. Scandinavian crew on 6 flights from Scandinavia to Japan participated in postflight measurements after landing [participation rate 85% (N=41)]. Half the flights permitted smoking on board, and the other half, 0.5 months later, did not. Hygienic measurements showed low relative air humidity on board (2-10%) and a carbon dioxide concentration of <1000 ppm during 99.6% of the cruising time. RESULTS: The smoking ban caused a drastic reduction of respirable particles, from a mean of 66 (SD 56) microg/m3 to 3 (SD 0.8) microg/m3. The perceived CAQ was improved, and there were fewer symptoms, particularly ocular symptoms, headache and tiredness. Tear-film stability increased, and nasal patency was altered. CONCLUSIONS: Despite a high air exchange rate and spatial separation between smokers and nonsmokers, smoking in commercial aircraft may cause significant air pollution, as indicated by a large increase in respirable particles. This ETS exposure is associated with an increase in ocular and general symptoms, decreased tear-film stability, and alterations of nasal patency. (+info)
Gravitoinertial force magnitude and direction influence head-centric auditory localization.
We measured the influence of gravitoinertial force (GIF) magnitude and direction on head-centric auditory localization to determine whether a true audiogravic illusion exists. In experiment 1, supine subjects adjusted computer-generated dichotic stimuli until they heard a fused sound straight ahead in the midsagittal plane of the head under a variety of GIF conditions generated in a slow-rotation room. The dichotic stimuli were constructed by convolving broadband noise with head-related transfer function pairs that model the acoustic filtering at the listener's ears. These stimuli give rise to the perception of externally localized sounds. When the GIF was increased from 1 to 2 g and rotated 60 degrees rightward relative to the head and body, subjects on average set an acoustic stimulus 7.3 degrees right of their head's median plane to hear it as straight ahead. When the GIF was doubled and rotated 60 degrees leftward, subjects set the sound 6.8 degrees leftward of baseline values to hear it as centered. In experiment 2, increasing the GIF in the median plane of the supine body to 2 g did not influence auditory localization. In experiment 3, tilts up to 75 degrees of the supine body relative to the normal 1 g GIF led to small shifts, 1--2 degrees, of auditory setting toward the up ear to maintain a head-centered sound localization. These results show that head-centric auditory localization is affected by azimuthal rotation and increase in magnitude of the GIF and demonstrate that an audiogravic illusion exists. Sound localization is shifted in the direction opposite GIF rotation by an amount related to the magnitude of the GIF and its angular deviation relative to the median plane. (+info)
Cosmic radiation protection dosimetry using an Electronic personal Dosemeter (Siemens EPD) on selected international flights.
The effectiveness of an Electronic Personal Dosemeter (Siemens EPD) for cosmic-radiation dosimetry at aviation altitudes was examined on eight international flights between March and September, 1998. The EPD values (Hepd) of the dose equivalent from penetrating radiation, Hp(10), were assumed to be almost the same as the electron absorbed doses during those flights. Based on the compositions of cosmic radiation in the atmosphere and the 1977 ICRP recommendation, an empirical equation to conservatively estimate the personal dose equivalent (Hp77) at a depth of 5 cm was derived as Hp77 = 3.1 x Hepd. The personal dose equivalent (Hp90) based on the 1990 ICRP recommendation was given by Hp90 = 4.6 x Hepd; the conservative feature of Hp90 was confirmed in a comparison with the calculated effective doses by means of the CARI-6 code. It is thus expected that the EPD will be effectively used for radiation protection dosimetry on selected international flights. (+info)