GAITHERSBURG, MD, August 7, 2006 Federal, state, and local agencies have reached consensus on the first validated national standard for collecting, packaging, and transporting samples of visible powders that are suspected of being biological threat agents, such as anthrax. The new standard meets the needs of the first responders to test the powders on site, and the needs of the federal agencies to conduct tests on the same, uncontaminated powder samples for forensic and confirmatory analysis.
The national sample collection procedure was developed and approved by AOAC INTERNATIONAL, which is a worldwide provider and facilitator in the development of analytical standards. The new standard is applicable to nonporous surfaces only and incorporates reference guidance for packaging and transport of suspicious powders to comply with all appropriate federal regulations regarding bio-safety and bio-security.
The development and testing of the standard were supported by the Science & Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a need for a coordinated effort with federal agencies and emergency responders to standardize activities related to anthrax and other biological agent incidents.
"The development of this AOAC/ASTM standard represents an important step towards building consensus between the emergency responder communities and the federal agencies on national standards for responding to possible terrorist attacks," said Bert M. Coursey, Director of DHS Office of Standards. [For reference to ASTM, see last page of release.]
The purpose of the sampling procedure is to have a standard that is accepted and followed by emergency responders for suspicious powder collection in order to reduce exposure risks, reduce the variability associated with sample handling and analysis, and increase the reliability of sampling visible powders from nonporous surfaces.
Contact: Arlene Fox