ABSTRACT

Diffuse Security Threats: USPS Air Filtration Systems Need More Testing and Cost Benefit Analysis Before Implementation, Report to Congressional Committees   [open pdf - 3MB]

Following the anthrax attacks of October 2001, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has started to look at various technologies that could be implemented in the event of another bioterror attack. The high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system is being used as a prototype at two facilities and is planned for implementation throughout the country. HEPA filtering technology is the state-of-the-art technology for the removal of particulate biohazards and other particles of micron-sized range. USPS has not adequately tested the HEPA filtration system to confirm that it will meet its intended purpose of trapping anthrax spores and its secondary purpose of cleaning the mail processing equipment. USPS's testing has not shown conclusively (1) the HEPA filtration system's ability to trap released hazards and other contaminants, and (2) what level of hazards or contaminants could be released into the mail processing environment as a result of the air filtration system's design. Furthermore, USPS has not verified through testing that the air filtration system will not interfere with the air sampling and detection equipment. Even though HEPA filtration systems could reduce the risk of exposure to biohazards, they may negate the benefits of other technologies being considered by USPS to protect its employees and customers in the event of another anthrax attack. Finally, the design and installation of the HEPA filtration system requires custom modification to USPS equipment nationwide and will likely cost more than USPS projected in its Emergency Preparedness Plan.

Report Number:
GAO-02-838
Publisher:
Date:
2002-08-22
Copyright:
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Government Accountability Office (GAO): http://www.gao.gov/
Format:
pdf
Media Type:
application/pdf
URL:
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