GKN Aerospace has been a place of employment for me as an electrician for fifteen years. GKN’s business is in the designing and manufacturing of composite and metallic aero structures. These aero structures are then sold to a wide array of companies. Some of GKN’s customers are Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Airbus and many others. The aero structures are built and designed for use in military and commercial aircraft, aircraft-engines, guided missiles and space vehicles. GKN Aerospace has been in business for over one hundred years. In that time, not only has the process of the manufacturing changed, but also so has the knowledge and attention of the pollution and contaminants that are produced from said manufacturing.
Some of the pollutants that GKN Aerospace produces stem from the use of solvents, degreasers, spraying of paints, spent fuel exhaust and chemical milling. GKN is aware of these pollutants and has taken steps to reduce the impact these pollutants have on both the environment and their workforce. One of the means they have taken is with the help of the State of Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Occupational Safety and Health Association, also known as OSHA.
One of the more recent improvements to GKN’s safety and health is the regulation of Chromium. Where GKN uses Chromium, is in their paint booths, clean and prime line, and chemical processing areas. Additionally, chromium is released in areas that sand, grind or drill on primed parts. Many areas have products containing chrome, but do not use them in large quantities.
(Chromium will be referred to as Chrome for the remaining of the paper.)
GKN uses Chrome in their paints and primers because it has excellent anti-corrosive properties, which are great for ships and planes. Chrome is also a requirement in military specs. Chrome comes in two basic forms; trivalent (Cr3, Chrome III) and hexavalent (Cr6, Chrome VI). The difference refers to the number of electrons in the atom. Trivalent chrome is not harmful and is in fact an essential nutrient found in most multivitamins. Trivalent chrome is used in many titanium alloys as well. Hexavalent chrome can be harmful if inhaled or ingested. When inhaled, hexavalent chrome is an irritant of the nose, throat and lungs, can cause sores in the nasal passages and is a known carcinogen. When ingested, it can cause irritation and ulcers in the stomach and is a suspect carcinogen. (Chromium)
Studies have been conducted over the last century on employees working primarily in chrome plating and chrome ore processing facilities, as well as studies conducted in labs on various animal species. Both types of studies have found that continuous exposures to high levels of...