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May 26, 2004
Berkeley Lab Recognized for Efforts to Protect Buildings From Chemical and Biological Weapon Attacks

A team from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has won a Federal Lab Consortium (FLC) Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer in 2004.

The award-winning technology includes downloadable publications and a website with advice for building operators, managers, emergency planners, incident commanders, and first-responders on how to respond to chemical and biological attacks.

The winning entry, Minimizing Casualties from a Chem/Bio Attack: Preparation, Training, and Response Resources, has helped thousands of first-responders at police, fire and emergency agencies better understand how to prepare for and counter a chemical or biological weapons release in buildings and transportation facilities.

Members of the winning team from Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) include Phil Price, the project leader, Ashok Gadgil, Tracy Thatcher, Michael Sohn, David Lorenzetti, Rengie Chan, Emily Wood, Woody Delp, Sondra Jarvis, Richard Sextro, Elizabeth Finlayson, Buvana Jayaraman, Sheng-chieh Chang, and Seungbae Hong.

The EETD team developed advice for building operators, managers, emergency planners, incident commanders, and first-responders like firefighters and police officers, and posted the information on a "Secure Buildings" web site, (, which has had thousands of visitors since early 2002.

In late 2001, terrorists used anthrax to kill several people, disrupt mail deliveries, and render congressional office buildings in Washington D.C. uninhabitable. The buildings were eventually reoccupied at a cost of well over $150 million and after enormous disruption to their occupants. These relatively limited attacks had huge consequences; a major chemical or biological attack could be much more severe.

Even before the anthrax releases, scientists in EETD's Indoor Environment Department had been conducting research aimed at reducing the effects of a chemical or biological attack. This research builds on a long tradition of work on airflow in buildings, filtration effectiveness, and air quality issues. The attacks prompted scientists to ask, "Is there anything we can contribute right now?"

They identified several target groups that could benefit from increased knowledge, including building operators, who are responsible for the maintenance and operation of building ventilation systems; managers of unique, high-value buildings such as airports; emergency planners and incident commanders who have to decide what areas of a city to evacuate and where to send response teams; and "first responders"—the firefighters and police officers who are the first trained people on the scene of an attack.

The EETD team worked with colleagues at Sandia National Laboratories to provide recommendations to airport managers on preparation, training, and event response. They also worked with the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to predict indoor toxic concentrations from a Bhopal-type accidental chemical release—an important addition to the suite of outdoor prediction tools already available, since people spend the majority of their time indoors.

Finally, the team created first responder training materials for the California Peace Officers Standards and Training Agency, which has used them to train police officers in much of the U.S. These efforts have improved the readiness and safety of the nation's police officers, the security of the nation's buildings and their inhabitants, the effectiveness of local emergency response, and the safety of the U.S. air transportation network.

Other members of the team include William Nazaroff of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, and Berkeley Lab's EETD; Gayle Sugiyama of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Susanna Gordon and Donna Edwards of the Sandia Systems Research Department.

The Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Excellence in Technology Transfer Award for 2004, one of the most prestigious honors in the field, reflects the FLC's mission "to promote and facilitate the rapid movement of federal laboratory research results and technologies into the mainstream of the U.S. economy."

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