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Air Monitoring for Chemical Warfare Agents

Air monitoring equipment

Within the Disposal Facility

Chemical agent monitoring is critical to ensure protection of the environment, workers, and nearby residents.

  • Specially designed equipment collects air samples and gives a reading a few minutes after each sample is collected. This technology leads to near-real-time monitoring.
  • Other monitors collect samples of air over longer periods of time to find out if very low levels of chemical agents are present.
  • Monitors and air-sampling systems are placed strategically throughout the disposal facility, within the exhaust system, and around the perimeter of the facility.

If results show any chemical agent, the facility takes corrective action. This is done even if levels are well below those that may harm people.

Improvements or Refinements in Technology

CDC helps provide continual improvements or refinements in air-monitoring technology for the chemical agent disposal program. CDC endorses the important goals of

  • Improving chemical agent detection and sensitivity levels,
  • Avoiding interferents, and
  • Reducing sampling and analytical time for near-real-time instruments.

CDC regularly conducts oversight visits to examine air-monitoring systems even though current systems meet intended requirements. CDC makes recommendations to improve air-monitoring systems without causing unnecessary program delays and the increased public risk associated with longer storage from such delays.

In addition to the air monitoring systems, multiple safety features are designed throughout the process along with automated backup systems for critical functions. If part of the disposal process is not operating correctly, the system detects the problem and automatically shuts down the entire operation safely.

CDC helps ensure that chemical monitors are operating accurately. CDC staff are involved in the following activities:

  • Reviewing the Department of Defense’s monitoring plans before they are implemented.
  • Checking agent-monitoring locations to ensure that a sufficient number of monitors are in use and that they are placed in the proper locations.
  • Analyzing data from each monitor to ensure that the system's readings are reliable.
  • Conducting periodic process safety and industrial hygiene surveys.

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