Standard Developed for Collection of Suspicious Powders

Standard applicable to nonporous surfaces, incorporates guidance for packaging and transport


A study was conducted in March 2006 to validate the reliability of the sampling procedure at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground. The study demonstrated that the sampling procedure can be used by trained emergency responders in simulated emergency conditions to consistently recover samples. The study also proved that sufficient number of Bacillus anthracis spores can be detected by emergency responders to make a presumptive, on-site determination even after all bulk samples have been collected. The evaluation study was designed to determine the recovery efficacy on seven environmental surface types that included stainless steel, food-grade painted wood, rubber, tile, concrete, finished wood, and plastic.

The study involved six teams, including four National Guard Civil Support Teams, the Navy's Chemical Biological Incidence Response Force (CBIRF) as well as a hazmat team from the Florida Hazard Materials Response Unit. Team members were dressed in Class C personal protective equipment during the entire study so that the efficacy of the sample collection procedure could be tested under as close to real-life conditions as could be attained.

The development of the sample collection standard was a cooperative, interagency effort involving many stakeholder organizations including federal, state, and local governments. Member organizations serving on the AOAC Sampling Standard Task Group included the federal agencies NIST, CDC, FBI, DOD, EPA, the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, and the DHS Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). State and local organizations represented included the New York State Department of Health, State of Florida, International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the U.S. National Guard. Volunteers from ASTM Committee E54 and the AOAC Official Methods Board also provided extensive review and input.

The standard developed by AOAC has been published by ASTM INTERNATIONAL under the title Standard Practices for Bulk Sample Collection and Swab Sample Collection of Visible Powders Suspected of Being Biological Agents from Nonporous Surfaces, E2458. It is available by contacting ASTM INTERNATIONAL, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, PO Box C700 West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959, .

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