Public Health Center Attends Subs in Space Workshop

Story Number: NNS170316-06Release Date: 3/16/2017 9:33:00 AM
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From Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Staff members of the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) participated in the Subs in Space II Workshop at the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, and the White Sands Test Facility (WSTF), Las Cruces, New Mexico, Feb. 27-March 3.

The workshop was an exchange of information regarding the maintenance of good air quality inside submarines and the International Space Station.

In addition to the staff from NMCPHC, U.S. Navy workshop attendees included representatives from the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters; technical warrant holder for Submarine Atmosphere Control; engineers from Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia and Carderock Divisions; and the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory.

Service members from the Royal navy and representatives from NASA also participated in the workshop.

"The workshop provided a great opportunity to see how the Royal navy and NASA handled concerns regarding maintaining acceptable air quality either aboard submarines or the International Space Station, such as their material certification program, exposure limit development process and air sampling methodology," said Robert Edwards, NMCPHC department head for industrial hygiene.

"It also provided a good networking opportunity to meet your counterpart within the Royal navy and NASA," said Edwards. "The laboratory tour at NASA WSTF provided us further insight into the instrumentation and procedures used for off-gas testing of materials and to have a one on one discussion with the NASA scientists."

Discussion topics included air quality monitoring, deriving exposure limits for chemical contaminants and material control.

"I really enjoyed the collaborative spirit among the attendees in solving unique problems with real-world application to Navy submarines and NASA's International Space Station and future spacecraft like the Orion," said Dr. Amy Delong, NMCPHC toxicologist. "The collective experience between NASA, the Royal navy, and U.S. Navy was remarkable, and I look forward to working with our counterparts on future projects."

Collaborations were an important byproduct of the workshop.

"Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters, technical warrant holder and Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center updated the test protocol for the Navy Submarine Atmosphere Material Control Program at the White Sands Test Facility and discussed off-gas test results with NASA scientists," said Edwards. "We also got the opportunity to tour their off-gas testing facility."

NMCPHC is a key member of the U.S. Navy Submarine Environment Advisory Board which is chaired by the chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Navy Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) M9. NMCPHC's Submarine Materials Review Board (SMRB) reviews all non-metallic material prior to installation aboard a submarine. The SMRB evaluates the toxicological and hazardous material aspects of the material and forwards a recommendation for usage category to chief, BUMED M9. NMCPHC also recommends which non-metallic materials are sent to NASA for off-gas testing, interprets the results, and determines whether the materials will adversely affect the submarine air quality.

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