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Bolstering pan-European preparedness for CBRN incidents

Terrorist attacks involving chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials are a threat for Europe and the world. An EU initiative set out to improve reliability and integration of CBRN material sampling, transport and analysis in Europe.

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The EU-funded SLAM (Standardisation of laboratory analytical methods) project worked to validate sampling and analysis procedures. Activities began with identification of the threat agents most likely to be involved in accidental or intentional CBRN incidents. The group then focused on three types of analyses: forensics (agent profiling), to identify the perpetrators of an incident; operational, to identify the type of agent; and contingency and clearance, to determine the scale and duration of impact. Other work involved a review of procedures, protocols and standards of sampling; sample preparation; and analysis of C, B and RN agents at European laboratories. A report was also prepared about samples that might contain one or several CBRN agents. On the basis of this work, the team determined that reference materials used to standardise methods should be distributed to all laboratories. Furthermore, any standardised method or procedure should be updated regularly. Quality assurance and control as well as sampling, sampling strategy and sample preparation should be standardised across Europe. A series of workshops were held to expand the dialogue on standardisation and to ensure support and acceptance by all EU Member States. The aim was to encourage operators, managers, policymakers and various other stakeholders to discuss procedures, capabilities and needs. Lastly, the project delivered a roadmap for standardisation and harmonisation of CBRN laboratory analyses. It lays down a strategy for the development of common and comparable methods, procedures and protocols for analysis and identification of CBRN materials. This enables a comparison of outcomes from different laboratories and operators throughout Europe following a CBRN incident. The roadmap also proposes the establishment of an EU-wide CBRN laboratory network. SLAM introduced approaches for the successful implementation of an EU-wide quality control system for the complete analysis of CBRN materials. The project will simplify cross-border cooperation and increase European resilience to CBRN crises.

Keywords

CBRN, material sampling, standardisation, sampling and analysis, laboratory analyses

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