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Health risk assessment for chemical exposures of military interest

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Author: Langenberg, J.P. · Polhuijs, M. · Sijbranda, T.
Source:12th International Symposium on Protection against Chemical and Biological Warfare Agents, Stockholm, Sweden, 8-10 June 2016, 61 (18 sheets)
Identifier: 537254
Keywords: Warfare · Observation, Weapon & Protection Systems · CBRN - CBRN Protection · TS - Technical Sciences


Participation in military operations is accompanied by health hazards resulting from exposure to chemical substances from natural and anthropogenic sources. Historically, focus on toxicological risks has been on the health effects of exposure to chemical warfare agents (CW A). In recent years the awareness of the importance of health hazards resulting from exposure to other chemicals encountered during military operations has grown steadily. The new era brings new types of operations, mostly outof-area, and new 'threats' including releases of toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) and materials (TIMs) as well as health effects of many chemicals of different nature in the operational environment, including the releases of chemicals with a specific military nature e.g. ammunitions, explosives, pyrotechnics, (jet) fuels, combustion products and pesticides. Although potential health risks from (urban) operations and some of the chemicals contributing to urban pollution are being investigated to some extent, several crucial questions are not yet addressed. Armed forces need to be able to perform a military-relevant and dedicated risk assessment of toxic materials (other than CWA) under operational conditions during missions and exercises. An improved level of safety and health care for military personnel under operational conditions will enhance combat readiness and effectiveness, and increase the probability of successful mission completion. An additional, non-operational benefit is that the risk of post-deployment illness and disability, resulting from exposures during deployment, will be reduced. The new Technical Group (TG) 262 under the NATO/HFM panel will address the issue of health hazards resulting from exposure to chemicals in order to enable risk management. Special attention will be paid to operational risk assessment and short and long term health effects. The main topics of the TG's activity to be covered in relation to adverse health effects of deployed personnel are: • Urban and industrial pollutants in areas to which military personnel are deployed, such as (contaminated) particulate matter, fuels and combustion by-products from traffic, industrial and residential activities, agriculture-related chemicals and materials, and industrial by- products and waste; • Pollutants originating from military activities, such as bum pits, pesticides and fuels or combustion products thereof. TG-262 kicked-off in February 2016, will be active until October 2018 and is open to NATO and PfP nations as well as Global Partners of NATO. So far France, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the USA have joined this activity. The approach chosen by TG-262 as well as the first results of this activity will be presented.