CHEMICAL RESPONSE & TERRORISM PREPAREDNESS
The Chemical Terrorism Preparedness and Response (CT) laboratory at DCLS was one of four state laboratories originally selected in 1998 to provide support to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for laboratory analysis for human exposure to chemical warfare agents. Expanding on the capacity of these four laboratories, the CDC established the Laboratory Response Network (LRN-C) to respond to accidental or intentional exposure of people to toxic chemicals. The LRN-C is a national laboratory network in which DCLS serves as a Level I member maintaining the highest level of testing capacity. This capacity includes maintaining the ability to test human clinical specimens for toxic chemicals and the ability to serve as a backup laboratory for the CDC in a large-scale chemical terrorism event.
The CT laboratory used its expertise with the LRN-C network as a basis for applying for, and being selected as a Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) laboratory by the FDA and USDA. As a FERN laboratory, DCLS is responsible for providing laboratory testing in response to the adulteration of imported and domestic food samples.
LRN-C and FERN program participation has provided the DCLS CT laboratory with the skills, staff and instrumentation to provide laboratory support to local, state and federal agencies in everyday situations that involve chemical contaminations involving humans, food or environmental samples, including:
- the adulteration of pet foods and milk-based foods with melamine
- surveillance of foods sold at large-scale political events
- attempted poisonings of humans and animals
- analysis of unknown white powders for chemical threats
- response to concerns of adulterated foods being distributed in local school districts
- potential environmental crimes
This group also is involved in efforts aimed at improving the testing methods used by both federal network programs and developing new laboratory testing methods to detect other highly toxic agents in water, food, vegetation and other environmental samples.
In support of local, state and federal environmental and law enforcement agencies, DCLS CT scientists provide:
- chemical testing consultation
- laboratory testing support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- expert witness testimony for all laboratory testing performed
- technical support to other states and groups within DCLS
- personnel training on test methods
- support for method development efforts in areas such as Biomonitoring and Drugs of Abuse testing