Environmental conditions that impact respiratory and overall health

Military and law enforcement personnel are frequently exposed to high particulate pollution in multiple environments(1)during both combat and/or training situations. High particulate exposures are often the result of combustion related activities or environments that could include environmental/structure fires, burn pits, burning of fossil fuels, explosions (IED, gunfire, mortar, breaching, etc.) or from specific theatres of operation, such as desert sand.
At Ventus, understanding each of these environments, the impact to operators’ health and how the TR2 can help mitigate the risks is key to product development, ongoing testing and market fit.
Short term exposure to specific particulate matter may cause airway restriction, reduced oxygenation, and acute respiratory illness. These have immediate and long-term effects on operator/police personnel’s performance in occupational tasks, irreversible damage or illness is often the result. Longer term exposure to high particulate loads can lead to chronic illness and disability. One staggering statistic is that the rate of respiratory illness in military personnel is roughly twice that of the general population (2).
Knowing that and understanding the risk of exposure based on specific environments, we have been most focused on the following:indoor and outdoor firing ranges, explosive breaching and burn pits.
Firing Ranges:
Ammunition contains lead in both the primer and the bullet itself. When firing, lead is aerosolized and released directly in front of the shooter’s face. Aerosolized lead particles can be inhaled into the lungs, where it is then absorbed into the bloodstream and contributes to lead poisoning.Raising awareness about the dangers of lead goes beyond the risks to the lungs and respiratory system. There is no amount of lead that is considered safe in the human body, and no system in the human body is left unaffected when there are elevated lead levels in the blood(3).
We have run countless tests on used filters after time spent on the range and lead levels were unexpectedly high. Most notably, on a 3-hour outdoor range training session, we captured an average of 152 μg of Lead based on 3 different shooters firing an average of 550 rounds on Carbine, Pistol, and Shotgun. As a reference point, the current blood lead intervention level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) is 10μg per decilitre (0.1 litre) of blood. For an average adult with 5 litres of blood, this equates to a maximum of 500μg in the bloodstream before intervention is recommended.At Ventus, we realize that testing our filters and providing users with results to see for themselves, will help to raise awareness and answer questions about the efficacy of the TR2. We will be announcing a new campaign shortly called Filters for Feedback that will do just that. It will allow a user to mail in their used filters so they can see for themselves how our superior filtration system works.
Breaching:
There are five primary types of breaching techniques used in the military and police today. These techniques include mechanical breaching, hydraulic breaching, ballistic breaching, explosive breaching, and thermal breaching (4). Although these methods of entry are fundamentally different, there is a common element and this is the release of particulate matter in the form of combustible elements, toxic dusts from infrastructure collapse and from mechanical/thermal methods of entry. Overpressure, also called a blast wave, refers to the sudden onset of a pressure wave after an explosion. This pressure wave is caused by the energy released in the initial explosionthe bigger the initial explosion, the more damaging the pressure wave. The pressure wave radiates outward and generates hazardous fragments (such as building debris and shattered glass).
In each of these environments or situations, the TR2 offers protection by filtering 97% of solid airborne particulates down to 0.3μm. The TR2 can be worn with or without a helmet allowing the user flexibility depending on the situation. The light and compact TR2 will not restrict movement, impact situational awareness or breathability. In each of the situations mentioned above, the TR2should be considered a standard piece of protective equipment.
Burn Pits:
A burn pit is area within a military compound where waste of all kinds is destroyed. Although it’s the simplest way to destroy waste, it is also the most dangerous. Unlike incineration, the temperatures of the open-air burn pit are lower and usually result in incomplete combustion of the material being burned. This results in the aerosolization of a greater number of toxins. The waste burned could include chemicals, paints, medical waste, human waste, metal and aluminum products, electronic waste, munitions, petroleum products, lubricants, plastics, rubber, wood, and food waste. Atypical burn pit use jet fuel as the accelerant (5).Typically, the pollutants seen in burn pits would include dioxins, particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic carbons, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, hexachlorobenzene, and ash. Reproductive disorders, cancer, high blood pressure, and Autoimmune disorders have been documented from exposure to burn pits. Perhaps the most striking consequence of all is respiratory disease. It has been reported that of The Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, 30% of participates have been diagnosed with respiratory issues such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease(COPD), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis (6).
References:1.Rivera et al. New Onset Asthma and Combat Deployment. Findings of the Millenium Cohort Study. Am J Epidemiol 2018 Oct; 187(10):2136-21442.Zhu et al. Cancer Incidence In the US Military Population: Comparison with Rates from the SEER Program. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009 Jun: 18(6): 1740-5.3.Long-term health consequences of exposure to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 20114.Field Manual 03-06-2011. US Army. Section 3-20 Breaching 5.Kime, Patricia. (2017-08-08). New burn pit report, lung disease, high blood pressure concern in exposed vets. Military Times.6.Risen, James (August 6, 2010)."Veterans Sound Alarm Over Burn-Pit Exposure".The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. RetrievedAugust 7,2010.
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