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Occup Environ Med. 2017 Sep;74(9):639-644. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2016-104207. Epub 2017 Apr 13.

Military small arms fire in association with acute decrements in lung function.

Author information

1
Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, Oslo, Norway.
2
Occupational Health Service, Sessvollmoen, Norwegian Armed Forces, Oslo, Norway.
3
Division Protection and Societal Security, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, Kjeller, Norway.
4
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.
5
Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
6
Department of Respiratory Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

After introduction of unleaded ammunition, Norwegian Armed Forces received reports of acute respiratory symptoms in soldiers after exposure to fumes from firing the standard weapon, HK416. The aim of the present study was to examine lung function before and after exposure to fumes from HK416 in a double-blinded standardised study design using three different types of ammunition.

METHODS:

Fifty-four healthy, non-smoking male volunteers (19-62 years) fired the weapons for 60 min with either leaded, unleaded or 'modified' unleaded ammunition. Gaseous and particulate emissions were monitored. Spirometry and exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) were performed within 14 days before (T0), shortly after (T1) and 24 hours after (T2) shooting. Methacholine provocation and diffusing capacity of carbon monoxide (DLCO) were carried out at T0 and T2.

RESULTS:

The mean forced expiratory volume in 1 s on a group level was significantly reduced both at T1 and T2 compared with T0, with means and 95% CI of 226 mL (158 to 294 mL) and 285 mL (218 to 351 mL), respectively. The same significant pattern was seen for DLCO, forced vital capacity and eNO. The methacholine test indicated a slight increase in bronchial hyper-reactivity. However, there were no significant differences between types of ammunition used.

CONCLUSION:

Exposure to fumes from military weapons might be a respiratory hazard for soldiers who do live-fire training regularly or are in a closed combat environment.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01477645.

KEYWORDS:

Dusts; Lung function; Metals; Occupational exposure; Respiratory

PMID:
28408655
DOI:
10.1136/oemed-2016-104207
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: JK reports non-personal fee from Boehringer Ingelheim, personal fees from Norwegian Asthma and Allergy Association (NAAF), outside the submitted work. LIBS reports grants from Bohringer Ingelheim, outside the submitted work.

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