Cancer-linked chemical found inside Kansas aircraft hangar

WICHITA, Kan. (AP/KWCH/WIBW) -- Dangerous levels of a compound linked to cancer were found last year inside an aircraft hangar at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, and a memo warns more than 50 personnel may have been exposed to it.

Documents obtained by McClatchy show contamination by hexavalent chrominium - the subject of the case featured in the movie “Erin Brockovich” - was documented in base memos.

The chemical is an anti-corrosion agent and is found in paints and primers used on the KC-135 and KC-46. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns exposure can cause respiratory diseases, kidney, liver or abdominal damage and various cancers.

“The risk of developing lung, nasal, and sinus cancer increases with the amount of hexavalent chromium inhaled and the length of time the worker is exposed,” OSHA said.

McClatchy received a statement from the McConnell Air Force Base, saying it is aware of the exposure hazard and has taken steps to protect personnel working in the hangar.

13 NEWS has reached out to the 190th Air Refueling Wing at Forbes Field to see if the same chemical was used at the Topeka facility.