Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health

First Committee Member

Dr. Terry Stentz

Second Committee Member

Dr. Kelli Herstein

Third Committee Member

Dr. Chandran Achutan


The 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron is based out of Offutt Air Force Base (AFB). The organization has requested testing of Air Ground Equipment (AGE) maintenance operations for heavy metals, specifically cadmium and chromium while evaluating one break area for the harmful compounds. It is hypothesized that heavy metals may be in excessive limits and could potentially harm staff and their families as take-home toxins. If left uninvestigated and evaluated, excessive exposure to heavy metals could cause injury or illness within the unit’s ranks, decreasing unit effectiveness and efficiency. Sampling methods include preliminary assessments of break area and adjacent glass bead blasting chamber. Research teams will utilize NMAM 7300 and air sampling equipment with a flow rate of 2.0 L/min while subjects complete maintenance operations and utilize the break area which was always occupied by facility staff. Source and area samples will be taken from workspaces that are exposed blasting operations i.e., locker rooms, PPE doffing, and break areas. Collection of heavy metal contaminants, through the guidance of NMAM 9102 and wipe samples from furniture, subjects and high contact areas will be completed to evaluate personal hygiene and housekeeping practice. Samples will be processed and analyzed by an ALS Lab in Salt Lake City, UT and consolidated in an excel data base. Results illustrate an over exposure to cadmium and chromium while blasting operations occur. Worker was exposed to 0.0068 mg/m3 of cadmium and a chromium exposure of 0.717 mg/m3. Chromium exposure was 7x higher than the ceiling levels established by OSHA. Both instances exceed the national limit. Wipe samples verify a presence of heavy metals in the break area. Leading this study to believe housekeeping and hygiene practices are insufficient to prevent exposure to potentially hazardous metals. Per the UNMC IRB office no IRB support or approval was required for this project.

Included in

Public Health Commons