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Laboratory Response to Chemical Threats

Laboratory Response Team

The National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) maintains a select Laboratory Response Team that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to a chemical event anywhere in the country. This team supports the collection of clinical samples in hospitals and trauma centers to help ensure that proper testing can be done to assess people's exposure to chemical agents. CDC's Division of Laboratory Sciences (DLS) is equipped to handle analyses of samples collected after an event of even major scope.

Laboratory Response Network for Chemical Threats (LRN-C)

CDC funding supports 62 U.S. states, territories, and metropolitan areas through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement. In 2010, fifty-three laboratories within these jurisdictions provide emergency response capabilities for their local areas, the nation, or both. These laboratories make up the chemical component of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN).

A designation of Level 1, 2, or 3 identifies laboratory capabilities and defines member network participation. (Please note that the level designations changed in early 2005 so that laboratories previously designated "Level 1" are now "Level 3," and laboratories previously designated "Level 3" are now "Level 1.")

Level 3 Laboratories

level 3 image Nine laboratories are designated as Level 3 laboratories. All 53 laboratories have Level 3 capacity. These laboratories work with hospitals and other first responders within their jurisdiction to maintain competency in clinical specimen collection, storage, and shipment.

Level 2 Laboratories

Thirty-four labs are designated as Level 2 laboratories. Chemists in these laboratories are trained to detect exposure to a number of toxic chemical agents. Analysis of cyanide, nerve agents, and toxic metals in human samples are examples of Level 2 activities.

Level 1 Laboratories

Ten laboratories currently participate in Level 1 activities. These laboratories, which serve as surge-capacity laboratories for CDC, are able to detect not only the toxic chemical agents that Level 2 laboratories can detect but also can detect exposure to an expanded number of chemicals, including mustard agents, nerve agents, and other toxic industrial chemicals. Using unique high-throughput analysis capabilities, they expand CDC's ability to analyze large number of patient samples when responding to large-scale exposure incidents.

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