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Emergency response in the event of a bioterrorist event: shipping and analytical considerations for collected environmental samples.

Martinez K
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2003 May; :56
Environmental sampling is conducted to determine the presence of bioterrorism (BT) agents in environments to assess exposure risk; to determine the extent and degree of contamination; to support decisions regarding the need for medical treatment or cleanup; and to provide guidance regarding when cleanup is adequate to permit re-entry into an area. The types of methodologies used in a sampling strategy may include the collection of bulk, surface (wipe and vacuum), and/or air samples. Due to the degree of complexity and safety required for BT agents, presumptive identification should only be conducted by laboratories that are a member of the CDC Laboratory Response Network (LRN). Any other support efforts risk the health and safety of your occupational work force, the security of the nation, and the stability of the national public health system. During the anthrax outbreak investigation, over 120,000 environmental workups were conducted of which approximately 50% were handled by the LRN system. The initial preparedness for a BT response was based on a clinical model. Supporting laboratories were not amenable to the appropriate processing of these environmental specimens in a manner that would maximize the probability of finding a positive but also provide semiquantitative information. NIOSH participation brought an environmental (industrial hygiene) perspective to the outbreak investigations that proved beneficial to the epidemiologic assessments. Environmental microbiology perspectives are now viewed positively as a component of the response model and advances have been made regarding recovery efficiencies, semi-quantification, and validation. As a result, processing of higher-risk environmental samples, i.e., other than swab samples including bulks, wipes, vacuum, and air samples, are recommended to be analyzed at an appropriate LRN Level B or C laboratory using BSL-3 facilities. The shipping of collected environmental samples poses an additional challenge. Samples should be considered as potentially infectious substances and therefore handled appropriately.
Emergency-response; Environmental-factors; Samplers; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Air-samples; Laboratory-testing; Models; Industrial-hygiene; Chemical-warfare-agents; Biohazards; Biological-warfare-agents; 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