In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks in the Fall of 2001, Federal and State personnel successfully carried out their mission to provide response, recovery, and remediation under trying circumstances, including an unprecedented demand on their capabilities to analyze environmental samples. In reviewing these incidents, the Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) 9/11 Lessons Learned and its Anthrax Lessons Learned reports identified several areas where the country could better prepare itself in the event of future terrorist incidents. One of the most important areas identified was the need to improve the nations laboratory capacity and capability to respond to incidents requiring the analysis of large numbers of environmental samples in a short time. In response, EPA formed the Homeland Security Laboratory Capacity Workgroup to identify and implement opportunities for near-term improvements and to develop recommendations for addressing longer-term, cross-cutting laboratory issues. The EPA Homeland Security Laboratory Capacity Workgroup consists of representatives from the Office of Research and Development, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air, Office of Water, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Office of Environmental Information, Office of Pesticide Programs, and several EPA Regional Offices. A critical area identified by the workgroup was the need for a list of standardized analytical methods to be used by all laboratories when analyzing homeland security incident samples. Having standardized methods would reduce confusion, permit sharing of sample load between laboratories, improve data comparability, simplify the task of outsourcing analytical support to the commercial laboratory sector, and improve the follow-up activities of validating results, evaluating data and making decisions. To this end, workgroup members formed an Analytical Methods Subteam to address homeland security methods issues. The
Analytical Methods Subteam recognized that widely different needs for analytical methods could be required for various analytical activities that will be performed, including (1) constant monitoring and surveillance to determine if a terrorist event has occurred, (2) rapid screening for determining the presence of agents or contaminants of concern, (3) screening for identification of agents or contaminants used in an event, and (4) quantitation of the amount or levels of agents or contaminants identified for extent of contamination and the efficacy of decontamination determinations.