EPA evaluates biological threat decontamination procedures

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and federal partners announced on Wednesday the results of Bio-Response Operational Testing and Evaluation, a multi-year project that tested and evaluated decontamination procedures for biological incidents.

"The information gained from this project gives communities tested decontamination methods and real world guidance to inform future response efforts," Lek Kadeli, the acting assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Research and Development, said. "Results of this collaborative research effort is helping make the United States and our communities more secure, better prepared, and increasingly resilient."

As part of the project, the EPA released an anthrax substitute, Bacillus atropheus, into a test facility to study decontamination techniques on carpet, fabric and wood. Researchers used three methods of decontamination, including a pH-adjusted bleach and two fumigants.

Results showed the effectiveness of each method varied based on humidity and temperature. Information gained in the project will be used in making future decisions and help ensure effective responses to biological threats.

The findings were used to help decontaminate areas following ricin events in 2013. The research will be forwarded to state and local leaders, on-scene coordinators, waste managers and others to provide guidelines for biological decontamination.

The BOTE project involved more than 300 people, including National Guard Civil Support Teams and on-scene coordinators from around the U.S.