2012 EPA Research Progress Report
EPA’s Homeland Security research supports the Agency’s role as the lead federal agency for protecting water systems and decontamination efforts following incidents involving chemical, biological, or radiological contamination.
The research strengthens the resiliency of communities to prepare for and respond to contamination incidents. The research enables water utility managers, laboratory technicians, on-scene coordinators, risk assessors, risk communicators, and emergency responders to detect, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks and other disasters.
This section highlights some of the results EPA researchers and their partners have achieved in 2012 advancing Homeland Security. For more information about the impact and scope of this work, please visit: www.epa.gov/nhsrc/.
The vast majority of Americans need look no further than their kitchen faucet to find clean, safe, and abundant drinking water. The nation's water distribution system is a model of success for delivering this vital resource in ways that also protect public health.
In 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a series of anthrax-tainted letters were mailed to broadcast news outlets and two U.S. Senators. While those letters and their lethal contents never reached the specific network personalities or Senators they targeted, 27 people who came into contact with them became infected with anthrax. Five of those individuals died. At least 17 buildings were contaminated with anthrax spores, requiring extensive building decontamination.
For the past ten years, EPA's homeland security researchers have been conducting research that supports federal, state, and local decision makers working to prepare emergency responders and local communities with the information they need.
In the event of an environmental disaster involving potential contamination from radiation, or biological or chemical agents, the need for fast, accurate laboratory analysis is essential for supporting emergency response, recovery, and remediation operations. In the ten years since EPA's Homeland Security Research program was established, Agency researchers have helped the nation become significantly prepared for just such response activities.