June 12, 2024

IAQ Concerns in Aerospace Manufacturing

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IAQ Concerns in Aerospace Manufacturing

Aerospace Manufacturing

Toxic emissions in the workplace can make people sick. However, aerospace manufacturers can protect their workers from indoor pollution. The key to occupational health begins with clean air. The means to achieving constant unpolluted air is by using fume extraction and dust collection equipment.

With a value of over 75 billion dollars, the US aerospace sector is our passport to travel and efficient commerce and is essential for our national defense. The aerospace workforce is involved in the development, design, building, testing, and maintenance of systems, parts, and components of airborne crafts. It is a massive industry that employs more than 2 million people, many of whom could be at risk if healthy indoor air quality is not provided.

Whether it be for commercial, business, or military purposes, manufactured aerospace products include:

Aircraft – such as planes and helicopters

Craft parts – like airframe components (ie: wings and fuselage

Electronic (Avionic) systems – including transponders and flight displays

Structural Supports – such as landing gear

Sources of Poor IAQ in the Aerospace Industry

Industrial workers from every business sector face potential occupational risk when an unhealthy IAQ is present. What constitutes poor indoor air quality? In a word, pollution. And for workers who spend their days on the manufacturing floor, pollution can stem from many places.

In the aerospace industry, sources of indoor pollution arise from (but are not limited to):

Fumes and Mists: Emissions from items such as adhesives and solvents, as well as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the heating (or mere handling) of chemical agents

Dusts and Particulate Matter (PM): Created when wood, metal, plastic (or other synthetic materials) are handled

Mold and Mildew: Indoor moisture can produce hazardous spores when workspaces are poorly ventilated

Aerospace Applications & Toxic Substances

The types and amounts of pollutants produced during aerospace manufacturing depend on the applications and materials used. Industrial functions that can create toxic fumes and dusts include, but are not limited to:

Machining (such as milling): requires lubricants that create inhalable oil mists, slippery surfaces, and equipment failure.

Plating: the main environmental and safety concerns associated with electroplating include the release of heavy metal toxins such as cadmium, zinc, copper, and lead.

Welding: fumes contain substances such as manganese, vanadium, and beryllium that, when heat-welded, are made even more dangerous.

Coatings: preservative coatings used in aerospace manufacturing pose significant fire, explosion, and inhalation risks when heated.

Cutting/Grinding: materials such as fiberglass and plastics create large volumes of particulate dust during this process.

Sheet Metal Fabrication: can produce toxic emissions from hexavalent chromium, silica, arsenic, and beryllium, to name only a few elements.

Health Risks

Aerospace manufacturing employees who work day after day in confined spaces are at risk for a host of health-related problems. Consider just some of the illnesses linked to chronic toxic exposure:

Respiratory Illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis.

Metal Fume Fever (Monday Morning Fever): an illness that begins with flu-like symptoms and, if untreated, can progress to shock and convulsions. 

Manganism: a neurological disease that mimics symptoms of ALS, Parkinson’s, and MS. Symptoms include hallucinations, muscle spasms, tremors, and difficulty walking.

Cancer: lung cancer, for example, is associated with overexposure to beryllium in the workplace.

Silicosis: a lung disease caused by chronic silica dust inhalation.

Air Quality Solutions

The aerospace industry has long been aware of the need for clean air in the workplace: worker health, government regulatory compliance, enhanced productivity, and product reliability are all central to businesses’ bottom line.  But the companies that go furthest in air pollution prevention are those that incorporate air cleaning equipment into their IAQ arsenal.

Our aerospace customers value our mobile fume extraction air cleaners for their ability to remove chemicals, dust, and particulates from their production facilities, ensuring the highest level of IAQ.

At AIRSInc., we have the experience, depth of knowledge, and superior products to protect aerospace companies and their employees from the threat of poor IAQ.  Contact us today for a free air quality assessment with one of our skilled and experienced clean air specialists.

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