NHSRC Update on Research Tools and Products

Periodically, ASDWA receives status updates from the EPA National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC) in Cincinnati on their latest tools and products.  Here is the latest update.


CANARY Quick Start Guide:  Report

The CANARY Quick Start guide helps water utilities, consultants, and researchers to quickly learn how to install and run the CANARY event detection software. The CANARY software analyzes data from water quality sensors in water distribution systems to help rapidly detect contamination incidents.

Detection of contamination in drinking water using fluorescence and light absorption based online sensors:  Report

In general, the tested fluorometers alone were not as effective at detecting contaminant injections as traditional water quality sensors such as free chlorine and TOC sensors, mainly due to the need to optimize the fluorometer settings to the contaminant of interest. There were several positive outcomes from this study. First, the ZAPS unit that employed multiple detection principles and absorption/fluorescence wavelengths detected eight out of nine contaminants. Using only a single wavelength, the Turner device was limited to detecting eight out of ten contaminants that fluoresce similarly to fuel oil #2, which is what the unit was designed to detect.

Threat ensemble vulnerability assessment- sensor placement optimization tool (teva-spot) graphical user interface :  Updated software

• Incorporation of complete EPANET-MSX capabilities
• Node set definitions, ability to specify ensemble of contamination scenarios using a random number generator process.
• Ability to run Health Impacts Analysis without dose response functionality.
• User defined model for the timing of tap water ingestion. 0 (12:00 AM) to hour 24.
• Addition provides user the ability to analyze detailed concentration data for a small number of scenarios based on dose levels.

Technical Brief – Rapid Viability PCR Method for Detection of Live Bacillus anthracis Spores:  Summary

The EPA-NHSRC developed Rapid Viability PCR (RV-PCR) method determines the presence or absence of live B. anthracis spores, which is a key analytical requirement during the cleanup phase of a response. This method can be more sensitive than the traditional culture-based method because RV-PCR uses the whole sample for analysis. RV-PCR is relatively rapid and cost-effective. It is also less labor-intensive, less prone to inhibition by environmental matrices, and less prone to interference from other biological material in the sample than the culture method.

Technology Evaluation Report GE Analytical Instruments Sievers 900 Portable Total Organic Carbon Analyzer :  Report

The performance of several online total organic carbon (TOC) analyzers and ultraviolet spectrometers (UVS) was evaluated. The primary objective of this series of evaluations was to determine the response of the TOC analyzers and UVSs upon the introduction of contaminants such as toxic industrial chemicals and biological contaminants into drinking water.

Ultrafiltration improves ELISA and Endopep MS analysis of botulinum neurotoxin type A in drinking water:
Journal Article

The purpose of this study was to adapt and evaluate the Botulinum Toxin Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay (ELISA) (13) and Endopep-MS (3, 16) for use with drinking water samples. A further purpose of this study was to investigate the ability to concentrate toxin from large volumes of water (100-L) using ultrafiltration (UF) was evaluated in order to analyze otherwise undetectable levels of toxin.


Multiple Daily Low-Dose Bacillus anthracis Ames Inhalation Exposures in the Rabbit:  Report

The U.S. EPA, as one of the lead federal agencies supporting decontamination activities after a biological incident, has been systematically evaluating microbial dose-response data and its application for decision making to support decontamination activities. Site-specific risk-based decision making following a biological threat agent release poses extremely difficult and unique challenges, especially for a persistent agent such as Bacillus anthracis. Inhalation exposure risk from B. anthracis spores can result from aerosolized spores during a terrorist attack, subsequent re-aerosolized spores before cleanup takes place, or re-aerosolized residual spores after remediation is complete. The objective of this study was to evaluate physiological responses following 15 inhalation exposures to low doses of B. anthracis Ames spores representative of potential exposures that might be encountered in a reoccupancy/reuse scenario.

Review and Design of Low-Dose Bacillus anthracis Inhalation Exposures–Meeting Report:  Report

In July 2011, EPA NHSRC sponsored a Review and Design of Low-Dose Bacillus anthracis Inhalation Exposures meeting to review the research done to date and to identify gaps that future research should address regarding low-dose exposures. This effort brought together many organizations across the country, including EPA’s program offices, federal government agencies and laboratories, academia, and the private sector. Participants of the conference shared knowledge, explored differing opinions, and expanded understanding of the current state of research for low-dose exposure and future research needs. This report represents a summary of the presentations and discussions during the meeting.

Need to Know: Anticipating the Public’s Questions during a Water Emergency: Report

Since the events of September 11, 2001, improving the security of our nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure has been a high priority. As critical infrastructure, water systems can be subject to intentional attacks as well as unintentional contamination and must be protected. The EPA plays a critical role in this effort as the lead federal agency for water security. The overall objective of this study was to provide practical information that crisis communicators can directly apply to planning and response.


EPA’s Incident Waste Assessment & Tonnage Estimator (I-WASTE):  Summary

EPA, with the Department of Homeland Security, is supporting the National Response Framework, which guides response to domestic incidents.  I-WASTE has been developed by EPA’s Homeland Security Research Program to address waste management information gaps.  I-WASTE provides information on types and volumes of waste materials and potential contaminants generated during an incident, location and contact information for potential treatment/disposal facilities, as well as health and safety information to ensure public and worker safety during the removal, transport, treatment, and disposal of contaminated waste and debris.

Report on the 2011 Workshop on Chemical-Biological-Radiological Disposal in Landfills:  Report

This report summarizes discussions from the “2011 Workshop on Chemical-Biological-Radiological (CBR) Disposal in Landfills.” The workshop was held on June 14-15, 2011, in Washington, DC. The workshop objective was to address technical issues to consider when designing, constructing, and operating new landfill facilities for disposal of CBR wastes in an emergency scenario.

Technical Brief – Bio-response Operational Testing and Evaluation (BOTE) Project :  Summary and Video

The Bio-response Operational Testing and Evaluation (BOTE) Project is a multi-agency effort designed to operationally test and evaluate biological incident (anthrax release) response from health/law enforcement response through environmental remediation.  Research has helped improve EPA’s preparedness and capability to respond to a biological incident, specifically related to improving the readiness for mitigating the effects of the release of a bio-agent over a wide area. It was recognized, however, that further advances in preparedness achieved through research and development required a scaled-up, systems oriented, approach to research conducted in an operational environment.

Technical Brief – Decontamination Options Tool for Remediation Decisions:  Summary

EPA is developing a decision support tool that organizes and allows users to retrieve information via queries based on site specific information. The attributes of various decontamination methods can then be factored against other remedial conditions and constraints to arrive at the remedial strategies for a given situation.


Determination of the Sampling Efficiency of Biosamplers to Collect Inhalable Particles:  Report

Three bioaerosol samplers were chosen for evaluation of sampling efficiency in the aerosol wind tunnel: the XMX/2L-MIL, manufactured by Dycor Technologies, Ltd.; the portable sampling unit (PSU) sampler, manufactured by Hi-Q Environmental Products; and the DryCloneTM sampler, manufactured by Evogen, Inc. This research was conducted to determine the sampling capability of biological aerosol samplers expected to be used for homeland security field support to collect respirable and inhalable particles resuspended after an accidental or intentional release of bioagents.

Method development for optimum recovery of Yersinia pestis from transport media and swabs:  Report

The primary goal of this project was to determine the best combination of sampling swab, pre-moistening agent, transport media, and extraction method for a high efficiency recovery of Y. pestis and F. tularensis vegetative cells.

Sample Collection Procedures for Radiochemical Analytes in Environmental Matrices:  Report

This document focuses on the Site Characterization, Remediation, and Final Status Survey (site release) phases of a contamination incident  rather than sample collection needs during Initial Response. The procedures are intended for collection of environmental samples in response to a contamination incident or an emergency at the point where Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center (FRMAC) activities are turned over to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Selected Analytical Methods for Environmental Remediation and Recovery (SAM) 2012:  Report and Technical Summary

The information contained in this document represents the latest updates  in an ongoing effort of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC) to provide selected analytical methods for use by those laboratories tasked with performing confirmatory analyses of environmental samples in support of EPA remediation and recovery efforts following a homeland security incident.

Technical Report for the Surface Analysis of Nitrogen Mustard Degradation Products by Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS):  Report

This report describes experimental details for the research method developed and applied by a single laboratory to assess the recoveries of nitrogen mustard degradation products from various porous (vinyl tile, painted drywall, wood) and mostly nonporous (formica, galvanized steel, glass) surfaces. Performance data (MDL and P&A) are available.

Support vector machine classification using libs:  Journal Article

Classification of suspect powders, to determine if they could be Bacillus anthracis containing spore powders, using Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) spectra is difficult due to the variability in composition of these suspect powders and the variability typically associated with LIBS analysis. A method that builds a support vector machine classification model for such spectra relying on the known elemental composition of the Bacillus spores was developed. The method was applied to real-data produced from a LIBS device. Several methods used to test the predictive performance of the classification model revealed promising results.

Testing and Evaluation of Handheld Toxic Industrial Chemical Detectors:  Report

The report provides the results of recent tests on the performance of seven handheld detectors capable of quantifying oxygen (O2), flammable mixtures (based on the lower explosive limit for CH4), and six toxic industrial compounds (TICs) (H2S, SO2, NH3, Cl2, PH3, and HCN) at concentrations that would present a threat to emergency response personnel.


Assessment of Liquid and Physical Decontamination Methods for Environmental Surfaces Contaminated with Bacterial Spores: Development and Evaluation of the Decontamination Procedural Steps:  Report

The primary objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of individual and combined steps of an eight-step, low technology approach to decontaminating anthrax contaminated surfaces using “medium-sized (14 in by 14 in)” pieces (coupons) of selected building materials (carpet, wallboard, deck wood, rough cut barn wood, and concrete) inoculated via aerosol deposition with Bacillus atrophaeus spores (used as a surrogate for Bacillus anthracis spores).

Assessment of Liquid and Physical Decontamination Methods for Environmental Surfaces Contaminated with Bacterial Spores: Part 4 – Evaluation of Spray Method Parameters and Impact of Surface Grime: Report

The primary focus of this project is to evaluate and improve the effectiveness and practical application of in situ expedient decontamination methods to remediate and restore areas contaminated by biological threat agents. These decontamination techniques would rely on equipment (e.g., garden hoses, portable chemical sprayers, power washers) and application of liquid decontaminant solutions that can be cost-effective and readily available on site.

Determining the Efficacy of Liquids and Fumigants in Systematic Decontamination Studies for Bacillus anthracis Using Multiple Test Methods:  Report

The purpose of the investigation is to determine the efficacy for the decontamination of B. anthracis Ames spores by three methods. The three methods were used in a side-by-side fashion, to the extent logistically feasible, to evaluate the performance of various fumigant and liquid technologies for inactivating Bacillus anthracis Ames spores and surrogate (i.e., Bacillus subtilis) spores applied to test coupons/carriers. Evaluations were run at a range of effi cacy levels for the various fumigant and liquid technologies. The results of the testing will inform EPA decisions with respect to determination of acceptable data for use in registering technologies for application in building decontaminations of B. anthracis Ames spores.

Evaluation of Hydrogen Peroxide Fumigation for HVAC Decontamination:  Report

The primary objective of this project was to determine the efficacy of the Vaporous Hydrogen Peroxide (VHP) fumigation method on deactivating spores inside a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) duct. Secondary objectives were to determine the effect that flow rate, distance from injection point, flow and pressure points at turns such as elbows, inlet concentration of fumigant, and fumigant residual effects may have on the decontamination efficacy. Two types of duct were tested: galvanized metal and galvanized metal lined internally with fiberglass duct insulation.


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