April 3, 2002
Berkeley Lab Research News

Berkeley Lab Researchers Develop Concise Website on Handling Chemical-Biological Attacks Against Buildings

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BERKELEY, CA   U.S. police, fire, and emergency service agencies have been racing to better prepare for terrorist attacks using chemical or biological agents on their communities. Now, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a concise, relatively jargon-free Website offering the best up-to-the-minute scientific advice on how to respond in the case of such an attack against a building and its occupants: http://securebuildings.lbl.gov.

Developed by scientists at Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD), the website contains pointers for emergency service personnel in two areas:

  • how to reduce the vulnerability of buildings to chemical/biological agents before an attack in the long- and short-term timeframes;
  • what actions to take using a building's heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system to control the spread of these agents into and inside the building during an emergency.

"The advice on this site represents the consensus view of researchers at the Lab who have had extensive experience studying the physics and chemistry of the indoor environment, and the diffusion of air and pollutants through building interiors," says Ashok Gadgil, senior staff scientist and leader of EETD's Airflow and Pollutant Transport Group. "We hope that emergency response agencies throughout the nation will find this a useful tool. First responders in California have already begun using this website in their counterterrorism training."

The researchers have been studying methods to improve security of buildings from chemical and biological attacks for several years with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. However, the September 11th attacks and the incidents of anthrax sent through the mail have increased the urgency of helping emergency service agencies deal with chemical/biological attacks within buildings.

The scientists plan to update the site as new research results on protecting buildings from chemical and biological attacks become available.

The site is not designed to address large-scale, accidental releases such as those at a chemical manufacturing plant, nuclear facility, or oil refinery.

Site development of http://securebuildings.lbl.gov was led by Phillip Price, with help from Airflow and Pollutant Transfer Group members Gadgil, David Lorenzetti, Michael Sohn, Woody Delp, Tracy Thatcher, Elizabeth Finlayson, and review by EETD's Rich Sextro and William Fisk. A number of experts from outside the Lab have also reviewed the site, including scientists and emergency services personnel.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California. Visit our Website at www.lbl.gov