Decontamination and management of human remains following incidents of hazardous chemical release.
Directorate of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, US Army Public Health Command (USAPHC), Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, USA. American journal of disaster medicine
12/2012; 7(1):5-29. DOI: 10.5055/ajdm.2012.0077
To provide specific guidance and resources for systematic and orderly decontamination of human remains resulting from a chemical terrorist attack or accidental chemical release.
A detailed review and health-based decision criteria protocol is summarized. Protocol basis and logic are derived from analyses of compound-specific toxicological data and chemical/physical characteristics.
Guidance is suitable for civilian or military settings where human remains potentially contaminated with hazardous chemicals may be present, such as sites of transportation accidents, terrorist operations, or medical examiner processing points.
Guidance is developed from data-characterizing controlled experiments with laboratory animals, fabrics, and materiel.
Logic and specific procedures for decontamination and management of remains, protection of mortuary affairs personnel, and decision criteria to determine when remains are sufficiently decontaminated are presented.
Established procedures as well as existing materiel and available equipment for decontamination and verification provide reasonable means to mitigate chemical hazards from chemically exposed remains. Unique scenarios such as those involving supralethal concentrations of certain liquid chemical warfare agents may prove difficult to decontaminate but can be resolved in a timely manner by application of the characterized systematic approaches. Decision criteria and protocols to "clear" decontaminated remains for transport and processing are also provided.
Once appropriate decontamination and verification have been accomplished, normal procedures for management of remains and release can be followed.
Available from: Jan Misik
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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this in vivo study was to assess a new, putatively optimised method for mass casualty decontamination ("ORCHIDS protocol") for effectiveness in removing the chemical warfare agent VX from the skin of anaesthetised, domestic white pigs. ORCHIDS protocol consists of a 1.5-minute shower with a mild detergent (Argos™) supplemented by physical removal. A standard method of wet decontamination was used for comparison. Experimental animals were divided into four groups (A-D). Two groups were exposed to a supra-lethal percutaneous dose (5 × LD(50); 300 μg kg(-1)) of VX for 1 h prior to decontamination with either the ORCHIDS (C) or standard protocol (D). A third (B, positive control) group was exposed but not subject to decontamination. Blank controls (A) received anaesthesia and the corresponding dose of normal saline instead of VX. Observations of the clinical signs of intoxication were supplemented by measurements of whole blood cholinesterase (ChE) performed on samples of arterial blood acquired at 30-minute intervals for the duration of the study (up to 6 h). Untreated (B) animals displayed typical cholinergic signs consistent with VX intoxication (local fasciculation, mastication, salivation, pilo-erection and motor convulsions) and died 165-240 min post exposure. All animals in both decontamination treatment groups (C, D) survived the duration of the study and exhibited less severe signs of cholinergic poisoning. Thus, both the standard and ORCHIDS protocol were demonstrably effective against exposure to the potent nerve agent VX, even after a delay of 1 h. A critical advantage of the ORCHIDS protocol is the relatively short shower duration (1½ min compared to 3 min). In practice, this could substantially improve the rate at which individuals could be decontaminated by emergency responders following exposure to toxic materials such as chemical warfare agents.
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ABSTRACT: Although not widely known, a robust set of peer-reviewed public health and occupational exposure levels presently exist for key chemical warfare agents (CWAs) and certain acutely toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) identified as terrorist attack threats. Familiarity with these CWA and TIC exposure levels and their historic applications has facilitated emergency management decision-making by public and environmental health decision-makers. Specifically, multiple air, soil, and water exposure levels for CWAs and TICs summarized here have been extensively peer-reviewed and published; many have been recognized and are in use by federal and state health agencies as criteria for hazard zone prediction and assessment, occupational safety, and "how clean is clean enough" decisions. The key, however, is to know which criteria are most appropriate for specific decisions. While public safety is critical, high levels of concern often associated with perceived or actual proximity to extremely toxic chemical agents could result in overly cautious decisions that generate excessive delays, expenditure of scarce resources, and technological difficulties. Rapid selection of the most appropriate chemical exposure criteria is recommended to avoid such problems and expedite all phases of chemical incident response and recovery.
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ABSTRACT: In the event of a major chemical incident or accident, appropriate tools and technical guidance need to be available to ensure that a robust approach can be adopted for developing a remediation strategy. Remediation and restoration strategies implemented in the aftermath of a chemical incident are a particular concern for public health. As a result an innovative methodology has been developed to help design an effective recovery strategy in the aftermath of a chemical incident that has been developed; the UK Recovery Handbook for Chemical Incidents (UKRHCI). The handbook consists of a six-step decision framework and the use of decision trees specifically designed for three different environments: food production systems, inhabited areas and water environments. It also provides a compendium of evidence-based recovery options (techniques or methods for remediation) that should be selected in relation to their efficacy for removing contaminants from the environment. Selection of effective recovery options in this decision framework involves evaluating the physicochemical and toxicological properties of the chemical(s) involved. Thus, the chemical handbook includes a series of tables with relevant physicochemical and toxicological properties that should be assessed in function of the environment affected. It is essential that the physicochemical properties of a chemical are evaluated and interpreted correctly during the development of a remedial plan in the aftermath of a chemical incident to ensure an effective remedial response. This paper presents a general overview of the key physicochemical and toxicological properties of chemicals that should be evaluated when developing a recovery strategy. Information on how physicochemical properties have impacted on previous remedial responses reported in the literature is also discussed and a number of challenges for remediation are highlighted to include the need to develop novel approaches to remediate sites contaminated by mixtures of chemicals as well as methods for interpreting chemical reactions in different environmental matrices to include how climate change may affect the speciation and mobility of chemicals in the environment.
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