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July/August 2008
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Compounds to Counteract Effects of Radiological Weapons to Be Described in Proposed New Standard

Immediate action would be necessary to minimize the effects of a radiological “dirty bomb” detonation in a major city. In order to help municipalities prepare for such a possibility, ASTM International Committee E54 on Homeland Security is currently developing a proposed new standard, WK19352, Specification for Materials to Mitigate the Spread of Radioactive Contamination after a Radiological Dispersion Event. The proposed standard is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E54.03 on Decontamination.

If a dirty bomb were detonated, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, as well as weather effects, would increase the spread of loose contamination, making control and recovery more difficult and costly. While contaminant migration and chemical binding into surface materials can be relatively rapid, the immediate treatment of surfaces with large quantities of an appropriate compound, as described in WK19352, can alleviate much of the difficulty in decontamination.

“Adequate preparation and development of effective mitigation and decontamination technologies will ensure the most rapid and effective recovery from a radiological event, as well as providing a measure of deterrence,” says John Drake, environmental engineer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Homeland Security Research Center, and Committee E54 member. According to Drake, WK19352 will provide performance specifications for a sequestration coating that could be applied to exterior surfaces in an urban environment to mitigate the spread and binding behavior of radiological contamination.

Drake notes that the principal market for products described in WK19352 would be federal, state and local government emergency responders and response planners, decontamination service providers and those whose interests include protection and recovery of real estate potentially at risk from radiological terrorism. Participation in the continuing development of WK19352 and other work being done by Subcommittee E54.03 from interested parties throughout the world is encouraged.

CONTACT

Technical Information: John Drake, National Homeland Security Research Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

Phone: 513-235-4273

ASTM Staff: Timothy Brooke

Phone: 610-832-9729