Toward a "Smart City"
IH and Security Professionals Collaborate on Early Detection of Bombs
BY SAMANTHA CONNELL
To people working in other fields, industrial hygiene can seem so abstract and confusing that it might be difficult for them to imagine that IH concerns have practical applications in their field. Many top-notch experts work in industrial hygiene, but, as we all know, working on a team can bring fresh ideas to the table, including unrelated ideas that we didn’t see coming. One of the arts of industrial hygiene is making use of new ideas from other fields. Teaming up with other IHs is a great way to develop new ideas, but we can also benefit from working in other fields or merging them with IH. I was recently able to experience these benefits firsthand while working on a European Union project related to security called Project BONAS: BOmb factory detection by Networks of Advanced Sensors. (Editor's note: This article was written, and this issue of The Synergist was in production, prior to the March 22 terrorist attacks in Brussels. For information about the chemical used in the attacks, see the sidebar below.) PROJECT BONAS In 2013, an EU regulation on the marketing and use of explosive precursors, EU 98/2013, limited the concentration of seven substances available to the public (as explained in Annex I of the regulation) and required that eight substances be reported as suspicious transactions when purchased by the public (Annex II). These substances are considered precursors of homemade explosives, or HMEs. The BONAS project aimed to increase citizen protection and homeland security against terrorist attacks by enabling authorities to thwart bomb factory activity. The goal of Project BONAS was to make possible the early detection of bomb factories by using a network of advanced sensors to detect precursors of HMEs outside of explosives manufacturing sites before bombs are completed. These sites include any place a bomb is being produced: an apartment, home, warehouse, farm, or other location. The BONAS project included 13 teams from nine different countries. Our BONAS team was based out of the forensics department of the University of Lausanne (UNIL) in Lausanne, Switzerland, and included three people with starkly different backgrounds: police work, forensics, and analytical chemistry; food chemistry and chemometrics; and industrial hygiene. Throughout the project I worked at a lab belonging to the Institute for Work and Health (IST) in Lausanne—the only IH institute in Switzerland—where I was part of another interdisciplinary group working with partners whose backgrounds included engineering, chemistry, and IH. The long-term goal of this and similar projects is a “smart city.” Imagine a place with continuous monitoring for hazardous substances (explosive precursors), alerting officials when levels increase from background. This monitoring is accomplished via a network of advanced sensors that are easily camouflaged and deployed in sensitive locations. The sensors are able to identify changes in urban and suburban environments, and can analyze volatile compounds, airborne particle residue, and traces in wastewater. Detecting substances via sensors outside of manufacturing sites can easily be compared to environmental air sampling. This is where I enter the picture. My supervisor, Francesco Saverio Romolo, needed someone familiar with air sampling and analysis to complete sampling in parallel with the sensors for validation purposes. He knew that sampling and analytical procedures for precursors of explosives were already developed in industrial hygiene, so he decided to add an IH specialist to his team. PARALLELS BETWEEN IH AND SECURITY Many substances of interest to security professionals contribute to common chemical exposures in the workplace. I was familiar with several substances of interest in Project BONAS from previous IH field experience. For example, substances in Annex I of EU 98/2013 include hydrogen peroxide, nitromethane, nitric acid, potassium chlorate, potassium perchlorate, sodium chlorate, and sodium perchlorate. Hexamine, sulfuric acid, acetone, potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate, calcium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate, and ammonium nitrate are the substances included in Annex II.
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Disadvantages of being unacclimatized:
  • Readily show signs of heat stress when exposed to hot environments.
  • Difficulty replacing all of the water lost in sweat.
  • Failure to replace the water lost will slow or prevent acclimatization.
Benefits of acclimatization:
  • Increased sweating efficiency (earlier onset of sweating, greater sweat production, and reduced electrolyte loss in sweat).
  • Stabilization of the circulation.
  • Work is performed with lower core temperature and heart rate.
  • Increased skin blood flow at a given core temperature.
Acclimatization plan:
  • Gradually increase exposure time in hot environmental conditions over a period of 7 to 14 days.
  • For new workers, the schedule should be no more than 20% of the usual duration of work in the hot environment on day 1 and a no more than 20% increase on each additional day.
  • For workers who have had previous experience with the job, the acclimatization regimen should be no more than 50% of the usual duration of work in the hot environment on day 1, 60% on day 2, 80% on day 3, and 100% on day 4.
  • The time required for non–physically fit individuals to develop acclimatization is about 50% greater than for the physically fit.
Level of acclimatization:
  • Relative to the initial level of physical fitness and the total heat stress experienced by the individual.
Maintaining acclimatization:
  • Can be maintained for a few days of non-heat exposure.
  • Absence from work in the heat for a week or more results in a significant loss in the beneficial adaptations leading to an increase likelihood of acute dehydration, illness, or fatigue.
  • Can be regained in 2 to 3 days upon return to a hot job.
  • Appears to be better maintained by those who are physically fit.
  • Seasonal shifts in temperatures may result in difficulties.
  • Working in hot, humid environments provides adaptive benefits that also apply in hot, desert environments, and vice versa.
  • Air conditioning will not affect acclimatization.
Acclimatization in Workers