Call to Action: Include Scientific Investigations as an Integral Component of Disaster Planning and Response: A Report from the National Biodefense Science Board [open pdf - 371KB]
"The environment associated with a disaster that presents a significant threat to public health presents many challenges to the conduct of scientific investigations,1 including limited access to incident leadership, the need to prioritize critical response activities, difficulty engaging personnel in the mission, and the need for timely situational awareness of important health-related events during the response or recovery operation. The disaster environment is usually dynamic, often hazardous, and highly charged with conflicting scientific opinions, political pressures, and disparities in knowledge or capabilities among responders and the public. This National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) report is a call to action for the U.S. Government to include scientific investigations as an integral component of emergency preparedness and response efforts. Response and remediation workers at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Pennsylvania sites after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks faced countless hazards, not least of which was great uncertainty about the health risks posed by poorly characterized chemicals and particulate mixtures in debris and the air. Similarly, in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, recovery workers and residents contended with poorly understood health risks from oil and oil dispersants. These and other examples of disasters that threaten public health demonstrate how the lack of pertinent and dependable scientific knowledge can complicate and impede an effective response to a disaster, place workers and the general public at unknown and potentially needless risks, and contribute to frustration and anger in an already stressed population."
United States. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response: http://www.phe.gov/