Chemical and Biological Events

This installment of the SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series (DBHIS) focuses on the disaster behavioral health effects of chemical and biological events such as nuclear accidents or attacks, bioterrorism, and infectious disease outbreaks. Topics covered include but are not limited to the following:

  • Nuclear and radiological exposure emergencies
  • Bioterrorism agents such as anthrax
  • Disaster behavioral health support for people who have experienced chemical and biological events
  • Infectious disease outbreaks and their effects on behavioral health

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ASTHO Legal preparedness series emergency volunteer toolkit - Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)
This toolkit provides state and federal officials, as well as emergency and disaster preparedness directors and coordinators, with key emergency response volunteer concepts and key federal and state law regulations about emergency volunteers. The toolkit can be used as a resource for legal counsel regarding the deployment of volunteers during emergencies and for educational, training, and planning activities.
http://www.astho.org/Programs/Preparedness/Public-Health-Emergency-Law/Emergency-Volunteer-Toolkit

Anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress in Iranian survivors of chemical warfare - Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
This article presents findings from a survey conducted with 153 civilians in three towns in Iran to examine the mental health effects on survivors after exposure to chemical warfare. [Citation: Hashemian F, Khoshnood K, Desai MM, Falahati F, Kasl S, Southwick S. Anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress in Iranian survivors of chemical warfare. JAMA. 2006 Aug 2;296(5):560-6.]
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=917072#abstract

Bioterrorism - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS, CDC)
This section of the CDC's website provides links to information and resources on bioterrorism, including fact sheets on specific chemical agents.
https://emergency.cdc.gov/bioterrorism/index.asp

Bioterrorism - Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA ensures safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, and education. This section of the OSHA website provides information and resources related to bioterrorism.
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/bioterrorism/index.html

Bridging the gap in mental health approaches between East and West: The psychosocial consequences of radiation exposure - Environmental Health Perspectives
This article examines the social and psychological consequences of exposure to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. Based on findings from a literature review and consultation with experts, the authors describe the different approaches used by mental health professionals in the former Soviet Union and in the West to classify distress and disorders and design treatment programs. The article also provides recommendations for bridging these gaps.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc1469916/pdf/envhper00331-0166.pdf

Disaster mental health: Assisting people exposed to radiation - National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)
This instructor manual provides information on events and risks associated with radiological exposure, features of radiation injury, main psychosocial issues related to radiological exposure, needs of special populations, evidence-based psychosocial interventions for radiological events (e.g., risk communication practices), and elements of self-care for first responders and public health professionals.
http://www.naccho.org/topics/emergency/radnuc/upload/nys-doh-radiation-training.pdf

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS, FEMA)
FEMA is the U.S. Government's principal agency charged with building and supporting the Nation's emergency management system.
http://www.fema.gov

Field guide for developing a risk communication strategy: From theory to action - World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization (WHO, PAHO)
This 50-page document discusses risk communication in the five phases of a public health emergency: preparedness, emergency onset, containment, recovery, and evaluation.
http://www1.paho.org/cdmedia/riskcommguide/RISKcommBKLETenFinal.pdf

From radiological incidents to nuclear calamities: Social, behavioral, and risk communication issues in radiation emergencies - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (HHS, SAMHSA)
This article is based on a keynote address delivered by Dr. Steven M. Becker, a expert on disaster response. It discusses the reactions of people exposed to a radiological event and the importance of clear risk communications during this time. The article was featured in a 2013 issue of The Dialogue, a quarterly technical assistance journal on disaster behavioral health produced by the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center. [Author: Moskowitz, S.]
http://archive.samhsa.gov/dtac/dialogue/Dialogue_Vol9_%20Issue4.pdf

General fact sheets on specific bioterrorism agents - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS, CDC)
This website provides links to fact sheets about bioterrorism agents, such as anthrax, botulism, brucellosis, plague, smallpox, tularemia, and viral hemorrhagic fevers.
https://emergency.cdc.gov/bioterrorism/factsheets.asp

IS-317 Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams - U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS, FEMA)
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program provides a general overview of disaster preparedness and weapons of mass destruction. This online training is the first step for individuals who are interested in being involved in disaster preparedness and response. The website notes that in order to become a volunteer, individuals must also complete a classroom training offered by a local government agency.
https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-317

Improving rural community preparedness for the chronic health consequences of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies - Journal of Public Health Management and Practice
This paper examines the impact of public health emergencies on the healthcare needs of people who live in rural areas. The authors provide recommendations for assessing preparedness and ensuring the availability, quality, and continuity of healthcare services for rural residents in the aftermath of a bioterrorism or other public health emergency. [Citation: Dobalian A, Tsao JC, Putzer GJ, Menendez SM. Improving rural community preparedness for the chronic health consequences of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2007 Sep-Oct;13(5):476-80.]
http://www.nursingcenter.com/pdfjournal?aid=739176&an=00124784-200709000-00008&journal_id=&issue_id

Improvised nuclear device response and recovery: Communicating in the immediate aftermath - U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS, FEMA)
This document is a resource is for emergency responders and federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officials charged with communicating with the public in the immediate aftermath of an improvised nuclear detonation in the United States. It provides information, instructions, and messages that emergency responders can share with the general public in the initial moments following the explosion, before federal assistance arrives.
http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1919-25045-0618/communicating_in_the_immediate_aftermath__final_june_2013_508_ok.pdf

Introduction to risk communication - Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
This online training, developed by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Public Health Preparedness, provides information on how to best share disaster-related information with the public and how people process this type of information.
http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-public-health-preparedness/training/online/crisis_communication.html

Legal preparedness for public health emergencies: A model for minimum competencies for mid-tier public health professionals - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS, CDC)
The document presents a model set of minimum competencies in public health emergency law for mid-tier public health professionals. The model includes nine key competencies in three domains: systems preparedness and response, management and protection of property and supplies, and management and protection of persons.
http://www.cdc.gov/phlp/docs/legal-preparedness-competencies.pdf

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Last Updated: 10/27/2015