Bioenvironmental Engineering and your health

Base Info
Staff Sgt. Anna Hurlbert, 8th Medical Operation Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineer NCO in-charge, holds water reference samples under a black light on Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea June 21, 2012. In this example, the bioenvironmental engineer unit is able to determine the presence of different types of bacteria, such as e-coli, by using the black light. Each test and sampling helps ensure Kunsan Airmen and personnel have access to clean and safe water. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jessica Hines)
Staff Sgt. Anna Hurlbert, 8th Medical Operation Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineer NCO in-charge, holds water reference samples under a black light on Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea June 21, 2012. In this example, the bioenvironmental engineer unit is able to determine the presence of different types of bacteria, such as e-coli, by using the black light. Each test and sampling helps ensure Kunsan Airmen and personnel have access to clean and safe water. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jessica Hines)

Bioenvironmental Engineering and your health

by: Senior Airman Jessica Hines | .
8th Fighter Wing Public Affair | .
published: June 22, 2012

6/21/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- When it comes to personal health, a reliable and honest doctor/patient relationship is key to helping ensure individuals maintain good health over the course of their lives.

But the family doctor isn't the only one eager to ensure everyone lives to enjoy their "golden years."

Members of the Air Force bioenvironmental engineering career field work to ensure healthy and safe working conditions for Air Force personnel through the management and monitoring of various programs such as industrial hygiene, radiological health and environmental protection.

Members of the 8th Medical Operations Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight at Kunsan Air Base stay up to par with not only Environmental Protection Agency standards, but Korean Environmental Governing Standards and the Overseas Environmental Baseline Guidance Document.

"We test for everything from radiation to metals to organic compounds and then we follow the standards for how often to test," said Staff Sgt. Anna Hurlbert, NCO in-charge of Environmental Protection.

"We are continuously monitoring the system and the water quality," she added.

One of the flight's main focuses is to determine if any possible traces of hazardous components exist that could affect a person's short or long term health. In all, more than 100 "analytes"-- or substances - are measured through sampling and testing.

"It's very extensive," said Master Sgt. James Lumley, BE flight chief.

"It's not like we do this quarterly sampling and just look for three or four items," he said while holding Kunsan's official second quarter Water Sampling Report 2012 comprised of 81 pages, 70 of which detail actual results.

If any items do not meet standards the flight immediately re-samples the water to clarify results and determines if further testing or action is necessary.

Such is the case with Kunsan's second quarter report, which found slightly above normal levels of dichloromethane - a useful solvent for many chemical processes such as degreasers and is even used to decaffeinate coffee in the food industry according to the California Environmental Protection Agency.

With the recent findings, however, the BE team immediately set back out to verify results with further testing. As a result of this, levels were determined to meet standards, ensuring clean and healthy water for the Airmen and personnel of Kunsan AB.

The unit conducts monthly and quarterly tests to ensure all members on base have access to clean and safe water, in addition to testing which is done during the 8th Fighter Wing's base-wide exercises.

If you have any questions about the water sampling process, please call the BE flight at 782-4670.

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