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The NIOSH response to a bioterror attack: an overview of the environmental characterizations of buildings potentially contaminated with Bacillus anthracis.

King B
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2003 May; :55
NIOSH industrial hygienists and engineers were essential in the national emergency response to the Bacillus anthracis bioterror attack of the fall of 2001. During October 200 I through September 2002, NIOSH scientists, in collaboration with other agencies, helped direct and/or perform characterizations of over 100 buildings in six states and the District of Columbia thought to be potentially contaminated with anthrax. During these characterizations, sampling strategies were developed to provide direction for assessing the extent of contamination. Depending on the demands and circumstances of a particular location, flexibility in the use of these strategies was important. However, they did provide a framework around which the characterizations could be built. These strategies included a focus on sampling mail pathways, ventilation systems, and high-traffic areas. The methods of sample collection included traditional industrial hygiene methods such as surface wipe samples, surface vacuum samples, and area air samples. The results from these characterizations helped provide a base of knowledge on which further action could be performed. One example includes Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the results of which formed the basis for an even more extensive characterization performed by the EPA during their remediation phase. Another example is the results of building characterizations throughout Connecticut which provided supporting data for the epidemiologic investigation there. Additionally, information on the efficacy of various environmental sampling methods for anthrax was developed by NIOSH during the work at certain locations. Such sites included the Brentwood and Hamilton post office facilities in Washington D.C., and Trenton, New Jersey, respectively. The lessons learned from the experience (including laboratory and administrative needs, sampling logistics, and cooperation between agencies) will be invaluable in responding to future attacks. Specifically, industrial hygiene practices and strategies used will be essential in directing sampling and remediation efforts in the future.
Biological-warfare-agents; Industrial-hygiene; Industrial-hygienists; Industrial-engineering; Emergency-response; Ventilation-systems; Sampling-methods; Surface-properties; Air-samples; Biological-weapons
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: December 18, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division