U.S. Army checking efficiency of decontamination testing

The Chemical Biological Application and Risk Reduction Business Unit of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center is testing biological microorganisms' ability to survive on military equipment treated with petroleum, oils and lubricants.

The CBARR will design a pre-operational study to see if biological organisms can survive on military equipment contaminated with POLs, which are commonly spilled on hardened equipment. The pre-study will be conducted between June and September after researchers consider two major factors in testability, including if can biological agents survive on contaminated POL surfaces and if contamination can affect test methodology.

"Before we launch into testing, JPM-P wants to make sure that the biological agent actually survives on the surfaces contaminated with POLs because in order to measure the efficacy of decontaminants, a live agent is needed," CBARR Biologist and Project Manager Debbie Menking said. "The idea here is to see if POL-treated surfaces will kill the bio agent, which would make the decontamination a moot point."

Small rectangular cutlets made from stainless steel, aluminum non-skid chemical agent resistant coating, silicon rubber and polycarbonate will be used in the study to replicate hardened military surfaces. The surfaces will be coated with POLs to replicate actual military conditions because surfaces are commonly dirty from spills.

Menking said her team is up for the challenge.

"This project allows us to utilize ECBC's most valuable resources - its people," Menking said.