Snapshot: Preparing for the Consequences of a Chemical Attack

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Is the U.S. ready for a chemical attack on the homeland? With the very real possibility of a chemical attack in public spaces like stadiums, religious buildings, museums and theaters, or even contamination of the food or water supply, the U.S. needs to be prepared to take appropriate action to save lives. This means having security measures in place to prevent or minimize the attack. It also means having effective medical responses that consider the quantity of medical supplies needed, transportation of those supplies to the scene, and medical facilities and personnel to care for the injured.

That is why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has developed a suite of models at S&T’s Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC). These models help federal agencies analyze threats, vulnerabilities and consequences of potential attacks to prioritize resources for the most effective defense and response.

The Chemical Consequence and Threat (CCAT) Tool, part of S&T’s All-hazards Countermeasure Assessment and Planning Tool (CAPT WEB), can rapidly calculate the number of people who would be killed or injured from a chemical release, the factors that might make the release catastrophic, and the current ability to respond to such an emergency. The CCAT Tool, which has a library of 184 chemicals and 37 representative targets, allows users to quickly evaluate the severity of an event and the impact of various response and mitigation strategies. The approach captures the inherent uncertainty of these events by randomly sampling values of key parameters, such as weather conditions, chemical mass used, population density, evacuation times, and calculating the result many thousands of times.  These results ultimately highlight opportunities for investment to make the defense of the nation more robust.

 

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U.S. Department of Homeland Security · www.dhs.gov · 202-282-8000