Environmental Contaminants: Assessment and Control

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This requires a combination of intelligence information on the potential use of the agents, rapid and accurate observation of delivery ordnance combined with visual observation of an aerosol cloud if possible , and detection of agent concentrations in plumes or on surfaces.

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Sources of environmental health hazards, such as endemic-disease organisms and industrial pollution in the theater of deployment, can be identified by several means. Information on disease patterns is typically available but must be given to the appropriate agency in order to begin monitoring. Industries, of course, are potential sources of contamination, and industrial production data by country and region are available in many areas of the world. The EPA has information on the types of chemicals used in many industries, as well as emission factors for these agents based on the production volume of the industry Gratt, Geographical information systems and satellite images can be used to identify potential sources of pollution.

These systems may also be able to locate hazardous waste dumps. Intelligence data can also be used to identify possible toxic sites. Chemical surveys are useful for confirming the existence and magnitude of many pollutant emissions. However, haphazard surveys that are not informed by other sources of information are not likely to find hot spots unless a large number of samples has been collected over a large region. Stores of chemicals e. Identifying such sources in a theater of deployment requires a prior inventory of facilities that have industrial stores of harmful substances, such as large chemical stores e.

CB weapons production facilities and storage facilities are obvious sources. Throughout the world, soils are contaminated to some extent from local, regional, and global pollution sources of both natural and human origin McKone and Maddalena, The large number of industrial. In many cases, assessing the source of exposure to these agents requires either detailed personal sampling or a systematic effort to define their use and exposure source. Characterization requires information on when, where, how, and how much of the chemicals are used in different situations based on the deployment supply manifest and troop interviews.

Surveillance could substantially enhance the amount of quantifiable information about the relative magnitude and duration of sources and exposures. For example, combining individual dose data with information on chemical use could shed light on where or whether a trend is developing. DoD will have to evaluate the likelihood of liability claims if detailed information on the array of industrial chemicals and other materials e.

DoD has a continuing need for data on the magnitude, extent, and causes of troop exposures and concentrations of CB agents and TICs. Yet much of the data now collected on environmental contaminants cannot be synthesized into any understandable form because of the lack of a comprehensive framework for evaluating chemical transport, transformation, and interaction over multiple media.

Eliminating Contamination Concerns

For a comprehensive framework, DoD would have to take the following steps:. Document and monitor geographic and time trends in exposures to chemicals and biological substances through multiple media air, water, soil , multiple pathways indoor air, house dust, food, tap water, etc. Identify and gather critical data for linking exposure, dose, and health information in ways that enhance epidemiological studies, improve environmental surveillance, improve predictive models, and enhance risk assessment and risk management.

Assess contaminant transport consistently over a wide range of time scales, from hours to years, and a wide range of spatial scales, from local to global. To define a strategy for detecting and monitoring CB agent concentrations, the pathway an agent takes from its source to the point of contact must be defined. In situations where troops face potentially. For example, for an aerosol, dermal contact and inhalation are the pathways. However, for low-dose exposures to CB agents and TICs, the pathways from source to contact can be more complex and less obvious. For example, CB agents released to the air can be deposited on the soil where they can give rise to low-dose exposures by inhalation through volatilization and resuspension, exposures by dermal contact when dust comes into contact with troops passing through the area, and exposures by ingestion if rainfall washes the agents into a nearby water supply.

For many TICs, exposures can also result from multiple environmental pathways. Aerosols and gases in outdoor ambient air are dispersed by atmospheric advection and diffusion. Meteorological parameters have an overwhelming influence on the behavior of contaminants in the lower atmosphere.

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Among them, wind parameters direction, velocity, and turbulence and thermal properties stability are the most important. Standard models for estimating the time and space distribution of CB agents to the atmosphere are Gaussian statistical solutions of the atmospheric diffusion equation Hanna et al. Numerous computer programs are available and many papers have been published describing algorithms for assessing the dispersion of point, line, and volume air pollution sources.

These models are widely used and have been calibrated in a number of situations. Nevertheless, these models are often not reliable enough to make predictions in a number of situations, such as for complex terrain, for urban environments, for various meteorological conditions e.

Modeling the transport of hazardous materials will require much more analysis, particularly for chemicals that partition among multiple environmental media e. For example, one of the key lessons from the Khamisiyah event in the Gulf War was that the very limited meteorological data, especially upper-air wind data, made it very difficult to predict a downwind concentration with any degree of certainty. This example points out the necessity of more reliable air-transport modeling for the short-term and.

Immediately after Operation Desert Storm, U. Army units occupied the area known as the Khamisiyah Ammunition Supply Point, which covers 50 square kilometers and contained about ammunition bunkers and several other types of storage facilities.

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To demolish the site, U. They also set off a number of smaller explosions to destroy small caches of munitions and to test techniques for destroying bunkers. Demolition operations continued in the area through most of April Ground and surface waters receive contaminants from many different sources. In many countries, domestic wastes constitute one of the largest sources of contaminants in surface streams and groundwater Layton et al. Point sources, such as discharges of liquid wastes from domestic or industrial wastewater treatment facilities occur at a specific location outlet along a surface body of water.

Nonpoint sources of water contamination usually originate from runoff from large urban and agricultural areas and are harder to characterize because of their diffuse nature. The behavior of chemicals and biological agents in surface waters is determined by two factors, the rate of physical transport in the water system and chemical reactivity Schnoor, Physical transport processes are dependent to a large extent on the type of body of water e.

Soils are characteristically heterogeneous. Contaminants in soil can affect human health and the environment through a complex web of interactions McKone and Maddalena, A number of competing processes influence the fate of soil contaminants. Vegetation generally has contact with two environmental media, air and soil.


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Plant interactions with these media are not understood well enough to define an accurate method of predicting CB agent uptake by vegetation McLachlan, Transport onto and from surfaces is a potentially important pathway for exposures in both outdoor and indoor environments. Contaminants can accumulate from air, water, soil, and clothing on exposed skin and then slowly be transmitted to the bloodstream.

CB agents, as well as TICs, can accumulate through deposition on the soil surface where these agents can come into contact with troops. These same agents and chemicals can accumulate on the surface of equipment and uniforms. Transport from these surfaces to humans can be an important mechanism for contact. To date, however, these processes have been poorly characterized Zartarian and Leckie, A better definition of CB agent uptake from surfaces will require information on the frequency of contact e. Human beings spend most of their time in indoor environments.


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  • Although time-activity data is not readily available for deployed forces, much of their time will be spent outdoors, but, indoor environments will also be important as microenvironments for many troops. Microenvironments include spaces within buildings, spaces inside vehicles and other enclosed spaces where troops can come into contact with environmental contaminants.

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    The transport of outdoor contaminants to indoor environments, and the resulting changes in contaminant concentrations, must be determined to assess potential exposures. For example, the relationship between the indoor and outdoor concentrations generally depends on the ventilation rate and the rate of removal in the building. Because of the high surface-to-volume ratio of building interiors, both particles and vapors can be removed from air by deposition on surfaces where they can be destroyed by surface reaction, by homogeneous chemical reactions, or by ventilation.

    Vapors sorbed on indoor surface materials can also be re-emitted to varying degrees i. Thus, the removal and re-emission processes must be accounted for in predictions of indoor air concentrations. Indoor and microenvironments may 1 offer some protection against certain agents, 2 be relatively neutral for other agents, and 3 actually. The nature of the effect depends on the physical and chemical properties of the agent in question. Indoor environments offer some protection from agents that are present in outdoor air as aerosols or as highly reactive gases.

    Larger aerosols do not penetrate the building envelope as fast as gases.

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    For reactive gases, protection is provided by the relative rates of penetration and reaction. For these gases, surface removal is important. Indoor environments offer little protection from gases or vapors that are relatively inert.