M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank Crew Member Occupational Health Hazard Analysis During Live-Fire Operations

Christopher A. Swift


Currently, the U.S. Army Public Health Center possesses limited data on M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank crew member occupational exposures. While not directly related to M1A1 crew member occupational exposures, current research has established a relationship between chronic exposure to pollutants below exposure guidelines and adverse health effects, which exposure to in a confined space may exacerbate. Additionally, inhalation of particulate matter has continually been referenced as a probable cause in delayed manifestation of adverse health effects related to military service. As such, advances in sampling and analytical technology may illuminate exposures previously considered not significant as significant. This research project aims to address two primary questions: what current occupational health hazard risks are M1A1 crew members subjected to during live-fire operations, and do any of these exposures present more than a negligible health hazard risk? Using current sampling equipment positioned in five separate locations within the tank, the author evaluates multiple inhalation exposures. Based on the total data collected, particulate matter, hydrogen cyanide, and lead present the greatest potential health risks. Recommendations from these results include continued monitoring to establish health risk potentials over time, future biological monitoring of crew members, and evaluation of personal filtration devices.