Chemical Threats Preparedness and Response

Mission

To assist first responders and emergency response operations by preparing area hospitals to package and ship large quantities of specimens to the State Laboratory, conducting rapid toxicological testing, and by serving as Rhode Island's liaison to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the event of a toxic chemical release.

What we do

  • Test blood and urine from individuals presumed to have been exposed to a toxic chemical agent.
  • Participate in studies designed to assess occupational and environmental exposures to hazardous chemicals such as volatile organic compounds and toxic metals.
  • Implement analytical methods developed by the CDC to detect toxic chemicals in human specimens that may originate from occupational exposures, environmental contamination, or acts of terrorism including cyanide, neurotoxins, and toxic elements.
  • Assist hospital Emergency Departments with preparedness to submit specimens to the state laboratory for testing in the event of a toxic chemical release.
  • Maintain strong working relationships with area hospitals, the hazmat community, and law enforcement.
  • Participate in the CDC Laboratory Response Network (LRN) proficiency testing program.

Accomplishments

  • The Chemical Threats laboratory has expanded its testing capabilities to provide presumptive analyses on non-clinical samples to aid law enforcement and hazmat teams in the identification of unknown and suspicious materials.
  • Maintained capacity and demonstrated proficiency in multiple methods for the detection of toxic industrial chemicals and warfare agents.
  • Successfully participated in CDC-led exercises designed to test the laboratory's emergency preparedness and capability to receive, package, ship, and test a large number of specimens.
  • The laboratory has recently expanded its toxic elements panel and now has the capacity to rapidly identify human exposure to 17 elements including mercury, lead, and arsenic.