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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(12), 4521-4549; doi:10.3390/ijerph8124521

Mass Casualties and Health Care Following the Release of Toxic Chemicals or Radioactive Material—Contribution of Modern Biotechnology

1
Swedish Defence Research Agency, FOI CBRN—Defence and Security, 20 Cementvägen, SE 901 82 Umea, Sweden
2
Applied Research Associates, Inc., 1235 South Clark Street Ste, Arlington, VA 22203, USA
3
European CBRNE Center, KBC Building, 6 Linnaeus väg, SE 901 87 Umea, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 November 2011 / Revised: 25 November 2011 / Accepted: 29 November 2011 / Published: 7 December 2011
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Abstract

Catastrophic chemical or radiological events can cause thousands of casualties. Such disasters require triage procedures to identify the development of health consequences requiring medical intervention. Our objective is to analyze recent advancements in biotechnology for triage in mass emergency situations. In addition to identifying persons “at risk” of developing health problems, these technologies can aid in securing the unaffected or “worried well”. We also highlight the need for public/private partnerships to engage in some of the underpinning sciences, such as patho-physiological mechanisms of chemical and radiological hazards, and for the necessary investment in the development of rapid assessment tools through identification of biochemical, molecular, and genetic biomarkers to predict health effects. For chemical agents, biomarkers of neurotoxicity, lung damage, and clinical and epidemiological databases are needed to assess acute and chronic effects of exposures. For radiological exposures, development of rapid, sensitive biomarkers using advanced biotechnologies are needed to sort exposed persons at risk of life-threatening effects from persons with long-term risk or no risk. The final implementation of rapid and portable diagnostics tools suitable for emergency care providers to guide triage and medical countermeasures use will need public support, since commercial incentives are lacking.
Keywords: mass casualties; triage; biomarkers; biotechnology; diagnostic; chemical; radioactive mass casualties; triage; biomarkers; biotechnology; diagnostic; chemical; radioactive
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Nyberg, A.G.; Stricklin, D.; Sellström, Å. Mass Casualties and Health Care Following the Release of Toxic Chemicals or Radioactive Material—Contribution of Modern Biotechnology. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8, 4521-4549.

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