The Body Burden of Organic Vapors in Artificial Air Trial Measurements Aboard a Moored Submarine
NAVAL SUBMARINE MEDICAL RESEARCH LAB GROTON CT
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The success of the submarine atmosphere control program has depended solely upon periodic identification of contaminants in the ships atmosphere. Substances found to exceed safeguard concentrations are controlled by restricting their use aboard ship or scrubbing them from the atmosphere. But, this approach tends to ignore the human host. Advancements in technology now enable biomedical scientists to identify organic gases absorbed by the human body during exposures to industrial environments. We evaluated the potential application of computer-assisted gas chromatography mass spectrometry GCMSCOMP to measuring of volatile organic compounds VOCs absorbed by submarine crewmembers. Expired breath samples were collected from watchstanders stationed in the forward space, torpedo room, forward engine space, and engineering space of a fast-attack submarine. Thirteen of the 17 highest concentrations of VOCs were acyclic, C7-C11 alkanes. Assuming that most of the expired VOCs were derived from the submarine, the hydrocarbon composition of the atmosphere was more concentrated and complex than in residential dwellings. This indicates that crewmembers absorb atmospheric VOCs during patrol and desorb the contaminants at home.
- Submarine Engineering