SciCombinator

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Concept: United States Marshals Service

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There have been periodic electronic news media reports of potential bioterrorism-related incidents involving unknown substances (often referred to as “white powder”) since the 2001 intentional dissemination of Bacillus anthracis through the U.S. Postal System. This study reviewed the number of unknown “white powder” incidents reported online by the electronic news media and compared them with unknown “white powder” incidents reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during a 2-year period from June 1, 2009 and May 31, 2011. Results identified 297 electronic news media reports, 538 CDC reports, and 384 FBI reports of unknown “white powder.” This study showed different unknown “white powder” incidents captured by each of the three sources. However, the authors could not determine the public health implications of this discordance.

Concepts: United States, United States Department of Justice, Law enforcement agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Martin Luther King, Jr., United States Marshals Service, COINTELPRO, J. Edgar Hoover

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Quantifying the sources of fugitive dusts on complex industrial sites is essential for regulation and effective dust management. This study applied two recently-patented Directional Passive Air Samplers (DPAS) to measure the fugitive dust contribution from a Metal Recovery Plant (MRP) located on the periphery of a major steelworks site. The DPAS can collect separate samples for winds from different directions (12 × 30° sectors), and the collected dust may be quantified using several different measurement methods. The DPASs were located up and down-prevailing-wind of the MRP processing area to (i) identify and measure the contribution made by the MRP processing operation; (ii) monitor this contribution during the processing of a particularly dusty material; and (iii) detect any changes to this contribution following new dust-control measures. Sampling took place over a 12-month period and the amount of dust was quantified using photographic, magnetic and mass-loading measurement methods. The DPASs are able to effectively resolve the incoming dust signal from the wider steelworks complex, and also different sources of fugitive dust from the MRP processing area. There was no confirmable increase in the dust contribution from the MRP during the processing of a particularly dusty material, but dust levels significantly reduced following the introduction of new dust-control measures. This research was undertaken in a regulatory context, and the results provide a unique evidence-base for current and future operational or regulatory decisions.

Concepts: Measurement, Storm, Regulation, Dust, Quantification, Dust storm, United States Marshals Service, The Fugitive

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