Countering Chemical and Biological Terrorism

by Norman J. Glover, (F.ASCE), Exec. Dir.; Inst. of Struct. Engrs., Aegis Inst., New York City, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2002, Vol. 72, Issue 5, Pg. 62-67

Document Type: Feature article


Prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, building protection related to terrorism primarily focused on the threat of bombs detonated inside vechicles. However the September 2001 attacks have intensified concerns and have prompted engineers to examine a more extensive range of threats, particularly those of a biological and chemical nature. In terms of bomb-related threats, engineers are studying ways to design structured designs so that a column collapse would only result in the collapse of a single floor or area without causing the collapse of the floors below it. One of the tools being studied is the reinforcement of the columns of existing buildings using fiberglass or carbon fiber materials. Minimizing the impact of shattered glass is another priority. Engineers are also looking for methods to counter what could be the most effective means of attacking a large building and its population: the introduction of an aerosolized agent into the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. Such methods could include moving air intakes from ground level to more access-controlled areas, creating interior shelters, securing exiting HVAC plants, and developing and installing devices designed to kill microorganisms or filter harmful chemicals.

Subject Headings: HVAC | Terrorism | Structural failures | Chemicals | Buildings | Structural design | Fiber reinforced composites

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