Public health laboratory analysis is critical to monitoring and prevention of radiological terrorism. Public health laboratories analyze clinical and environmental samples for radiochemicals and radiological contaminants, monitor the effects of radiation exposure and confirm radiation sickness or genetic mutation.

APHL & Radiological Response

APHL assesses the ability of state public health laboratories to test for radiological contamination through annual surveys. Survey data tracks progress in radiological capacity and identifies gaps that could impede response to a radiological incident. Serious gaps in laboratory radiological capability remain despite a 2007 hearing of the House Science and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee that identified these deficiencies.

Recent work with the National Alliance for Radiation Readiness led to the development of a sample prioritization document outlining considerations for decision makers during a radiological event.

APHL participated in the US response to the Japan nuclear crisis in March 2011. Many federal agencies came together during the response to provide resources to the state and local public health agencies including laboratories. Additionally, many APHL member laboratories provided testing for environmental matrices to ensure radiation levels did not exceed levels of public health concern. More information and resources are available on the official Japan Nuclear Crisis response site.