Author(s): Weis CP, Intrepido AJ, Miller AK, Cowin PG, Durno MA,
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Abstract CONTEXT: Bioterrorist attacks involving letters and mail-handling systems in Washington, DC, resulted in Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) spore contamination in the Hart Senate Office Building and other facilities in the US Capitol's vicinity. OBJECTIVE: To provide information about the nature and extent of indoor secondary aerosolization of B anthracis spores. DESIGN: Stationary and personal air samples, surface dust, and swab samples were collected under semiquiescent (minimal activities) and then simulated active office conditions to estimate secondary aerosolization of B anthracis spores. Nominal size characteristics, airborne concentrations, and surface contamination of B anthracis particles (colony-forming units) were evaluated. RESULTS: Viable B anthracis spores reaerosolized under semiquiescent conditions, with a marked increase in reaerosolization during simulated active office conditions. Increases were observed for B anthracis collected on open sheep blood agar plates (P<.001) and personal air monitors (P =.01) during active office conditions. More than 80\% of the B anthracis particles collected on stationary monitors were within an alveolar respirable size range of 0.95 to 3.5 micro m. CONCLUSIONS: Bacillus anthracis spores used in a recent terrorist incident reaerosolized under common office activities. These findings have important implications for appropriate respiratory protection, remediation, and reoccupancy of contaminated office environments.
This article was published in JAMA
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense