Air Monitoring for Chemical Warfare Agents
Within the Disposal Facility
Chemical agent monitoring is critical to ensure that the environment, facility personnel, and nearby residents are protected.
- Specially designed equipment monitors the air and gives a reading within a few minutes of the sample collection. This technology provides for near-real-time monitoring.
- Other types of monitors collect samples of air over a longer period of time to evaluate whether 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 a chemical agent is detected, even at levels well below what may be harmful to people, corrective actions are taken.
Protecting Public Health
CDC's role is to assist in providing continual improvements or refinements in air-monitoring technology for the chemical agent disposal program. Improving chemical agent detection and sensitivity levels, avoiding interferents, and reducing sampling and analytical time for near-real-time instruments are important goals endorsed by CDC.
Although current monitoring systems are meeting the intended requirements, CDC regularly conducts oversight visits to examine air-monitoring systems. Recent reviews generated several recommendations for changes and improvements that will support operational schedules and that can be reasonably accomplished in a timely manner. These recommendations have been provided to the Army, and the Army is in the process of implementing them. CDC's recommendations will 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 have been 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 is involved in ensuring that chemical monitors are operating accurately. CDC staff are involved in the following activities:
- Reviewing DoD 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.