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Wednesday, May 5, 2004

















Chem/Bio Response Work Gets Tech Transfer Award

Berkeley Lab members of the winning "Minimizing Casualties from a Chem/Bio Attack: Preparation, Training, and Response Resources" team are:

Ashok Gadgil
Tracy Thatcher
Michael Sohn
David Lorenzetti
Rengie Chan
Emily Wood
Woody Delp
Sondra Jarvis
Richard Sextro
Elizabeth Finlayson
Buvana Jayaraman
Sheng-chieh Chang
Seungbae Hong

The team also included William Nazaroff, with UC Berkeley, Gayle Sugiyama, with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Susanna Gordon and Donna Edwards with Sandia National Laboratories.

Background Information:

In late 2001, terrorists used anthrax to kill several people, disrupt mail deliveries, and render congressional office buildings uninhabitable.  The buildings were eventually reoccupied at a cost of well over $150 million and after enormous disruption to their occupants.  These relatively limited attacks had huge consequences; a major chemical or biological attack could be much more severe.

Even before the anthrax releases, scientists in the Indoor Environment Department of Berkeley Lab had been conducting research aimed at reducing the effects of a chemical or biological attack.  This research builds on a long tradition of work within the Department on building airflows, filtration effectiveness, and air quality issues.  The anthrax attacks prompted department scientists to ask, "Is there anything we can contribute right now?"

The answer was "yes."  The researchers identified several target groups that could benefit from increased knowledge.  These included building operators who are in charge of the design, maintenance, and operation of building ventilation systems, managers of unique, high-value buildings such as airports, emergency planners and incident commanders who have to decide what areas of a city to evacuate and where to send response teams, and "First Responders" -- the firefighters and police officers who are the first trained people on the scene of an attack.

The Berkeley Lab team was successful in identifying and meeting the needs of each of these target groups.  The team provides advice for building operators through the Secure Buildings web site, which has had thousands of visitors viewing over 40,000 pages since early 2002. The team worked with colleagues at Sandia National Laboratories to provide recommendations to airport managers on preparation, training, and event response. The team worked with the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to predict indoor toxic concentrations from a Bhopal-type emergency -- an important addition to the suite of outdoor prediction tools already available, since people spend the majority of their time indoors.  Finally, the team created First Responder training materials for the California Peace Officers Standards and Training Agency, which has used the materials to train police officers in much of the U.S.

These efforts have improved the readiness and safety of the nation's police officers, the security of the nation's buildings and their inhabitants, the effectiveness of local emergency response, and the safety of the U.S. air transportation network.  A major attack may still have consequences, but they will be lessened because of the scientific work and outreach of the Berkeley Lab team.

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