The EPA’s National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC), headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, has signed an interagency agreement with the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to study and develop decontamination methods for a building’s drinking water lines and appliances. Researchers, under the agreement, will provide a technical resource document for both emergency and follow-up responders.
"Contaminated pipes and associated household appliances pose a unique challenge," said NHSRC Engineer Jonathan Herrmann. "Dealing with contamination in a half-inch diameter copper pipe in someone’s home requires a different approach compared to contamination in a two-foot diameter water main or in the drinking water treatment plant itself," added Herrmann. EPA and NIST researchers intend to look at a range of contamination possibilities and work together to outline a comprehensive strategy to reduce potential threats to building occupants.
Both EPA and NIST have unique capabilities in addressing the multi-faceted challenges of pipe and appliance decontamination. Since its inception, EPA has been charged with conducting research and development to support efforts in supplying clean and safe drinking water to communities across the country. NIST has expertise in characterizing and measuring chemical compounds and other materials on various surfaces. NIST also has both small and full-scale plumbing test facilities which can be used for the project. Researchers will use safe, surrogate versions of possible biological and chemical contaminants in the tests. The study is scheduled for completion by summer of 2006.