Journal article written by Lab employee, others wins 'paper of the year'

Stephen P Wampler, LLNL, (925) 423-3107, wampler1@llnl.gov

Ellen Raber

An article written by an LLNL scientist and five other researchers about remediating an American airport after a chemical warfare attack has been named "Risk Management Paper of the Year" for 2011 by the journal Human and Ecological Risk Assessment (HERA).

In selecting the chemical remediation paper as the year's top article, the editors of HERA wrote, "This paper gives salient management actions should airports experience terrorists' release of toxic substances into airport environments."

The paper, published in the January-February 2011 edition of HERA, was written by Ellen Raber, deputy program manager for Counterterrorism in the Lab's Office of Strategic Outcomes, two former LLNL employees, and three other researchers. The paper's first author and the team leader was Annetta Watson, a senior scientist in toxicology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Research for the paper, funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was performed as a national case study in partnership with Los Angeles International Airport.

As a part of the paper, a conceptual site model and human health-based guidelines were developed to expedite the recovery of airports to full operational status in the absence of U.S. state or federal values designated as compound-specific remediation or re-entry concentrations.

"I'm very happy that all of the work by our team has been appreciated and has been able to contribute to this important problem," Raber said.

The reviewers of the paper offered laudatory comments for the research work and the article's methodology.

"One would imagine that all colleges and universities that provide environmental/engineering and public health programs would be interested in what can be considered a 'beginning' document for this type of planning," said Barbara Callahan, a senior toxicologist with University Research Engineers & Associates. Callahan added that it was an honor to be associated with the review process for the article.

"Agency guideline reports tend to be shelved and forgotten and the two articles in this report should avoid that fate since they are much more than remediation guidelines," said John Doull, professor emeritus of toxicology at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

"The development of the methodology used in this process will be of particular interest to researchers who have worked with chemical warfare agents and irritant chemicals," Doull added.

The airport scenario compounds evaluated included the chemical warfare agent nerve agents tabun, sarin, soman, cyclosarin and VX as well as the vesicant agent sulfur mustard and a number of toxic industrial compounds.

Among the populations' safety considered in the work are trained decontamination personnel, airplane passengers, and various airport personnel, including recovery personnel performing refurbishment tasks, vendors, gate agents, baggage handlers and others.

The paper's other co-authors included two former LLNL employees who now work for private companies - Linda Hall, who was a Lab toxicologist; and Adam Love, who was a chemist in the Forensic Science Center. The remaining two co-authors are: Fredrick Dolislager, a senior research associate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and Veronique Hauschild, a toxicologist with the U.S. Army Public Health Command.

An international journal published in the United Kingdom by the Taylor & Francis Group, HERA also selected papers of the year for ecological risk assessment, human health risk assessment, integration of human and ecological risk assessment and risk communication/perception.

Here is a URL for the paper.

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