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Chapter 10 : Environmental Sampling Today: Advances since the 2001 Anthrax Attacks

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Abstract:

Environmental sampling for Bacillus anthracis spores has evolved significantly since the 2001 anthrax attacks. In the sampling efforts immediately after the attacks, dry swabs were often used; as experience and expertise increased, significant changes took place in sampling techniques, which were incorporated into sampling guidance. This chapter discusses the state of environmental sampling prior to the attacks, the advances since then, existing guidance, current research needs, and the lessons learned since the fall of 2001. Following the anthrax attacks, environmental sampling was key in identifying sites with contamination (screening sampling), in ascertaining the nature and extent of contamination at affected sites (characterization sampling), and in determining the effectiveness of the remediations of those sites (clearance sampling). The experience and expertise gained from conducting the cleanups and working with peers on the advisory committees contributed significantly to the current understanding of and approach to environmental sampling for B. anthracis spores and biological-threat agents in general. The responses to the 2001 anthrax attacks entailed a steep learning curve in the public health, environmental sampling, and decontamination arenas. The majority of the lessons apply to environmental sampling following attacks with any microbiological agent of terrorism; however, some are specific to B. anthracis spores, given their highly pathogenic nature and the fact that spores are considered the most difficult microorganisms to destroy.

Citation: Canter D. 2008. Environmental Sampling Today: Advances since the 2001 Anthrax Attacks, p 243-258. In Emanuel P, Roos J, Niyogi K (ed), Sampling for Biological Agents in the Environment. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817473.ch10
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Figures

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Figure 1

Locations of facilities with significant B. anthracis contamination after the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Citation: Canter D. 2008. Environmental Sampling Today: Advances since the 2001 Anthrax Attacks, p 243-258. In Emanuel P, Roos J, Niyogi K (ed), Sampling for Biological Agents in the Environment. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817473.ch10
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Figure 2

Aggressive clearance air sampling in the Daschle suite.

Citation: Canter D. 2008. Environmental Sampling Today: Advances since the 2001 Anthrax Attacks, p 243-258. In Emanuel P, Roos J, Niyogi K (ed), Sampling for Biological Agents in the Environment. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817473.ch10
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References

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Tables

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Table 1

Timeline for anthrax attacks

Citation: Canter D. 2008. Environmental Sampling Today: Advances since the 2001 Anthrax Attacks, p 243-258. In Emanuel P, Roos J, Niyogi K (ed), Sampling for Biological Agents in the Environment. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817473.ch10
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Table 2

Precleanup environmental sampling at Department of State mail facility

Citation: Canter D. 2008. Environmental Sampling Today: Advances since the 2001 Anthrax Attacks, p 243-258. In Emanuel P, Roos J, Niyogi K (ed), Sampling for Biological Agents in the Environment. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817473.ch10
Generic image for table
Table 3

Biological indicator and clearance environmental sampling results from four facilities with fumigations after the 2001 anthrax attacks

Citation: Canter D. 2008. Environmental Sampling Today: Advances since the 2001 Anthrax Attacks, p 243-258. In Emanuel P, Roos J, Niyogi K (ed), Sampling for Biological Agents in the Environment. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817473.ch10

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