Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE

police, fire, rescue vehicles

Activities: NIOSH Research Projects

Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Terrorism Control Technologies

CBR terrorism control technology helps to (1) identify vulnerabilities to chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) terrorism in public and private buildings; (2) make recommendations to reduce these vulnerabilities; (3) evaluate the efficacy of proposed protective recommendations (including cost); and (4) identify new engineering approaches to address the CBR terrorist threat. Work with outside partners, including government agencies and private organizations, is critical to ensuring reasonable and practical recommendations. A series of guidance documents will be developed to provide building owners and operators with information on reducing the risks of a CBR-related incident.

Project contact: Michael Gressel
Division of Applied Research and Technology
(513) 841-4378
Project period: Continuing


Mine Emergency Rescue and Response

This research project enhances the safety and effectiveness of responders to mine emergencies through the development of problem solving training materials, the study of miner and mine rescue team behavior, and the assessment of new technologies. The research focuses on the mine worker, mine rescue personnel, emergency management, and emergency decision makers. Emerging issues in mine emergency preparedness and response are identified. The outcomes of this project are improved technology for escape and mine rescue and a more resilient mining workforce with measurable improvement in the readiness of well trained and equipped miners, rescue teams, and mine emergency managers.

Project contact: Danrick Alexander
Pittsburgh Research Laboratory
(412) 386-4468
Project period: Continuing


Smoke Management and Fire Modeling for Underground Mines

A mine fire simulator which in response to real-time mine fire sensor data can determine the appropriate smoke management methods will be developed for applications to miner safety in underground mines. In-mine fire and smoke transport experiments, computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling, sensor optimum site location experiments, fire risk assessment strategies, and smoke leakage experiments will be conducted to develop the supporting research for the development of the mine fire simulator for underground mining. Smoke control measures will be developed and evaluated. The effects of ventilation changes on an underground mine fire to prevent its growth and minimize smoke roll-back will be evaluated experimentally.

Project contact: Alex Smith
Pittsburgh Research Laboratory
(412) 386-6766
Project period: Continuing


Emergency Response Personnel

Emergency responders face known and unknown hazards from environments that may change rapidly with catastrophic failure consequences for the worker and general public. Rapid assessment and immediate, reliable information are required to meet the needs of these workers in order for them to properly and safely respond. The project centers on assessing those needs, evaluating the information, and providing the most appropriate forms and channels of delivery to meet those needs. Much of the effort is focused on participation in planning, peer review, and evaluation of the information and subsequent delivery by the most useful route. The information is designed to be used by emergency response workers during the various phases of emergency response situations, including planning, responding, and mitigation.

Project contact: Richard Niemeier
Education and Information Division
(513) 533-8388
Project period: Continuing


Education and Information Division Emergency Response: Chemical Database

Because of the lack of expertise in providing information to emergency responders, the large geographical dispersion of the potential threats, the large number of toxic terrorism agents that can be used, and the difficulty in quickly accessing scattered and potentially inaccurate information, the occupational safety and health database for emergency responders is designed to be rapidly accessible and contains comprehensive but concise information for high-priority chemical, physical, or biological agents that may be encountered in response to terrorist events. The repository of knowledge will become part of a centralized source of national and international safety and health information targeted toward the emergency response and public health communities. The database will address the potential health and safety agents/hazards and the accompanying prevention measures needed to educate, prepare, and respond to a terrorist event or domestic toxic spill involving similar hazardous agents. The expert-developed database will allow the emergency response communities to share a wealth of information that would not be readily accessible by other means and avoid costly duplication of effort by various entities. The types of information needed by emergency responders include the health and safety risks for potential chemical, physical, or biological terrorist agents; the characteristics and properties of the agents; sampling and analytical techniques; countermeasures such as emergency medical procedures and the proper selection and use of personal protective equipment; appropriate advice on safe evacuation distances; and appropriate decontamination procedures for both individuals and personal protective equipment.

Project contact: Richard Niemeier
Education and Information Division
(513) 533-8388
Project period: Continuing


Communication Materials for First Responders

The disasters at the World Trade Center and Pentagon placed emergency responders at risk of injury and illness from the structural collapse of buildings. The uncertainty of exposure at these disaster sites made it difficult in selecting personal protective equipment (PPE). Recent information about the hazards found at these disasters will be used to develop communication materials, recommending the selection of appropriate PPE for emergency responders.

Project contact: Ralph Zumwalde
Education and Information Division
(513) 533-8320
Project period: Continuing


Improved Environmental Exposure Sampling Methods for Bioterrorism Response

The objective of this study is to expand our capacity to employ environmental sampling methods in bioterrorism (BT) emergency response investigations. Surface sampling (i.e., wipe, swab, and vacuum) and air sampling for bioterrorism agents will be evaluated. These comparisons will be completed using surrogate agents in chamber-based studies in cooperation with established BT research facilities. Analytical services will be performed at three sites (Dugway Proving Grounds, EPA, and CDC/NCID). Chamber studies allow application of known-particle density to a variety of surfaces (and in the air) so that sampling methodologies can be evaluated for sensitivity, specificity, and recovery efficiencies, which can be determined for each phase of the process.

Project contact: Cheryl Estill
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies
(513) 841-4476
Project period: Continuing


Remote Methods for Addressing Coal Mine Fires

This effort is focused on the evaluation and improvement of technology to contain, control, and ultimately extinguish underground coal mine fires. The work will be accomplished through evaluation of the current state-of-the-art, in-mine construction of mine seals using the current technology, testing of the seals for air-leakage, and development of engineering improvements. Additionally, the mines must exhibit the structural integrity to withstand the forces of an explosion. Testing will also include a comprehensive in-mine evaluation of the capabilities of gas-enriched foam. Once the fieldwork has been completed, this technology will be directly transferred to all segments of the underground coal mining industry and MSHA.

Project contact: Michael Trevits
Pittsburgh Research Laboratory
(412) 386-6556
Project period: Continuing


Expedient Patient Isolation for Bioterrorism and Epidemic Response

This project seeks to identify and provide detailed implementation guidance on expedient patient isolation techniques that are affordable, are easily implemented, provide effective isolation, reduce potential health care worker exposures, and do not interfere with hands-on health care activities. Recommendations originating from this research will benefit multiple population demographics. Urban health care centers will be able to incorporate the recommendations to accommodate large-population events. Rural facilities, which generally lack patient isolation capabilities, will be able to obtain such capabilities with only minimal expense. Globally, variations of the guidance could assist in affording isolation capacity at remote facilities, close to the source of new outbreaks with epidemic potential. Application to nonhospital settings such as homeless shelters, jails, and ambulances will also result.

Project contact: Ken Mead
Division of Applied Research and Technology
(513) 841-4385
Project period: Continuing


NIOSH NPPTL Protection Planning Tool for the Hospital-Based Health Care Workforce

This project seeks to evaluate the potential exposure of first receivers involved in responses to terrorism incidents or to exposures to toxic industrial chemicals in order to develop appropriate standards and criteria for personal protective equipment in these scenarios. The possibility of victim dispersal of agents to first receivers and others in the health care facility will be evaluated in a three component analysis: decontamination efforts, facility risk analysis for dissemination of agent(s), and econometric evaluation of the costs of adequate personal protective equipment. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a tool that will assist health care institutions in tailoring their approach to protective strategies (individual and institutional) when faced with the myriad possible scenarios of terrorist incidents or exposures to toxic industrial chemicals.

Project contact: MaryAnn D'Alessandro
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-4033
Project period: Continuing


Development of a Novel Solid-Sampling Media for Collection of VOCs

There is an ongoing need for sampling and analytical method developments and technological improvements in existing methods to meet the need for lower limits of detection, identification of unknown chemical compounds, and the quantitative recovery of known and unknown chemical hazards. Methods resulting from this project will be used to sample and analyze chemical hazards identified in health hazard evaluations (HHEs) or chemical compounds that could be used in acts of terrorism.

These methods should lead to improvements in current gas chromatography methods, as well as new methodologies for the sampling and analysis of various VOCs developed using advanced gas chromatography techniques (portable microgas chromatography, fast-gas chromatography, etc.).

Project contact: Stephanie Pendergrass
Division of Applied Research and Technology
(513) 841-4359
Project period: Continuing


Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) in Control Technology

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is a powerful new tool for designing effective control technology through the virtual prototyping process, a process in which many designs are evaluated prior to laboratory studies and workplace implementation. CFD resolves the fluid transport phenomena that determine the fate of airborne toxins in the occupational environment. It provides insight regarding exposure assessment and accuracy of measurement devices or simple exposure models. Division projects will continue to use CFD in parametric studies that evaluate the influence of variables on ventilation effectiveness. Laboratory and field studies will continue to be conducted to validate the CFD results. CFD will be applied to the control of exposure to silica, bioaerosols, and gas-phase contaminants. Four journal articles and technical reports were published in FY 2006.

Project contact: James Bennett
Division of Applied Research and Technology
(513) 841-4311
Project period: Continuing


Emerging Issues in Occupational Respiratory Disease Laboratory Research

This project provides a mechanism for the coordination of laboratory projects and laboratory support provided to the division. Activities include initial program/project development; response to new research issues; participation in national consensus groups to develop standards for ventilation systems for industrial and agricultural tractor cabs and for the use of respiratory protection; participation in the NIOSH Respirator Policy Group; and participation in CDC workgroups developing recommendations on occupational respiratory disease.

Project contact: Christopher Coffey
Division of Respiratory Disease Studies
(304) 285-5958
Project period: Continuing


Improved Criteria for Emergency Medical Protective Clothing (EMS)

The purpose of this project is to provide support for revising NFPA 1999: Standard on Protective Clothing for Emergency Medical Operations. Specific work is needed to address current edition criteria that prevent the certification of certain products and are not in line with end-user expectations. Specific areas of work focus are cleaning gloves, single-use protective garments, and face protection devices. This project will entail a thorough hazard assessment, review of industry products, test method selection, and the development of criteria to establish appropriate levels of protection for first responders engaged in emergency medical operations. The expect outcome of this project will be improved criteria that are implemented in the revised NFPA 1999 standard, documentation to support the revisions, and overall enhanced protection of workers against bloodborne pathogens.

Project contact: Angie Sheperd
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-5245
Project period: Continuing


System Safety Concepts Applied to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Currently various emerging technologies are being investigated for improving the performance of PPE. A formalized process for addressing the safe application of this technology to PPE does not exist. This project will develop such a process for the functional safety of high-tech PPE over the equipment's entire life cycle. A risk-based system safety process along with lessons learned by other industries is employed. The project's recommended safety process will benefit NIOSH internally by review of NIOSH-sponsored research and the global PPE community since no such system-safety process specific to this technology formally exists.

Project contact: Tim Rehak
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-6866
Project period: Continuing


NIOSH CBRN Respirator Standards

NIOSH-through partnerships with other Federal agencies (OSHA, DOD, FBI, NIJ, NIST, DHS), manufacturers (ISEA), and emergency response organizations (IAFF, IAFC, NFPA)-leads a standards-development effort for respirators used for protection against a full range of expected CBRN terrorist threats. Neither industrial nor military respirators provide protection from the entire compliment of potential CBRN agents. Under Federal regulations, emergency responders are required to use NIOSH-certified respirators for respiratory protection as part of their respiratory protection program. The CBRN respirator standards have been endorsed and incorporated by other standards-generating organizations (DHS, NFPA). The NIOSH standards development and respirator certification programs have led to an increase in the national inventory of CBRN capabilities to protect emergency response personnel against the respiratory hazards associated with a terrorist event.

Project contact: Jonathan Szalajda
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory
(412) 386-6627
Project period: Continuing


Multivalent Biothreat Vaccine Efficacy

Bacillus anthracis, botulinum neurotoxin A (BotA), Yersinia pestis, and staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) are all considered potential biological warfare agents. Simultaneous administration of recombinant vaccines for these agents would reduce the time and cost of providing protection against a biological attack. In collaboration with U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) NIOSH has developed a multiplexed assay to evaluate vaccine efficacy (specific IgG levels) in monkeys multiply vaccinated and subsequently challenged with Bacillus anthracis, BotA, Yersinia pestis, and SEB. This multiplexed assay is quicker, cheaper and as sensitive as existing assays which have to be done individually. The development of such an integrated diagnostic system is necessary in the modern biothreat scenario where multiple or sequential use of numerous agents may be expected.

Project contact: John Snawder
Division of Applied Research and Technology
(513) 533-4496
Project period: Continuing


A Simple Rapid, Hand-Held Field Test To Evaluate Anthrax Vaccination Efficacy

Appropriately disseminated, anthrax has the potential to be one of the most deadly biological weapons known. Unless treated rapidly, up to 100% of victims will have fatal outcomes. The FDA-cleared anthrax vaccine (AVA) which has been used by the US military has had legal challenges to its use leading to the existence of individuals who have initiated the vaccination regimen, but have not been able to complete the series or receive annual boosters. There is no routine monitoring of an individual's protective immune response to AVA as their measurement by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), requires laboratory equipment and highly trained personnel. In collaboration with our DoD partner (US Navy) NIOSH has developed a simple rapid, hand-held field test to evaluate the antibody response of anthrax-vaccinated individuals. Preliminary evidence has shown the device to be highly sensitive and specific for AVA vaccination status. The environmental stability (long term effects of storage at widely differing temperatures/humidities) has shown the device to be sufficient stability for the military user.

Project contact: Raymond Biagini
Division of Applied Research and Technology
(513) 533-8196
Project period: Continuing


Determination of the Risk of Bacillus Anthracis Spore Resuspension from Envelopes Contaminated by the Anthrax-Containing Leahy Letter

In October 2001, letters containing Bacillus anthracis spores contaminated various Post Offices and work places in the eastern United States causing cases of dermal and inhalational anthrax; five of the inhalational cases died. Two inhalational cases occurred with no apparent immediate exposure to aerosols from the envelopes containing the B. anthracis spores. The hypothesis is that the letters were cross-contaminated from the original letters during transit and may present the source for these two patients; however, little is known about the potential for such cross-contamination or the risk to those manipulating such cross-contaminated mail. The purpose of this research is to examine the hazards associated with handling secondarily contaminated mail (i.e., what amounts of spores are aerosolized through routine handling of letters) using letters cross-contaminated with B. anthracis spores from the 2001 attack. This work is a collaborative effort among the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center (where and by whom the work will be conducted), Environmental Protection Agency National Homeland Security Research Center (who represent financial partners in this effort), Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the CDC National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Disease.

Project Contact: Ken Martinez
Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response
(513) 841-4224
Project Period: Continuing


Developing a Probabilistic Sampling Tool-Kit for Initial Response Sampling

NIOSH/CDC successfully used "judgmental" or “targeted” sampling approaches during the anthrax responses of October-December 2001 to direct sampling to locations considered most likely to have been contaminated based on incident details. However, in cases where incident details are unavailable or uncertain there is a need to develop supplemental "probabilistic" sampling options to evaluate whether or not contamination is likely to be present. Recent Government Accountability Office reports recommended that “Using a probability-based sampling strategy, together with validated methods for detecting contamination, would provide a known level of confidence with which to interpret any negative results and would thus enable agencies to be more definitive in determining necessary actions.” The focus of this project, therefore, is to develop probabilistic sampling approaches to provide additional sampling strategy tools to supplement traditional targeted sampling approaches. The project involves partnering with the Department of Energy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for development of the laboratory’s “Visual Sample Plan” software tool as a platform for the approach; and coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that the sampling software developed for initial assessment will be helpful for subsequent use by EPA and others charged with facility remediation and restoration efforts.

Project Contact: Karl Sieber
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies
(513) 841-4231
Project Period: Continuing

 

 
Contact Us:
  • Page last reviewed: August 20, 2013
  • Page last updated: August 20, 2013
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC-INFO