RealNews

Team Tests for Bioterror Agents in NYC

A specially equipped National Guard unit has been testing many of the city’s major buildings for biological agents such as anthrax nearly every day for the past month. The 22-member team has visited dozens of sites on a list compiled by the New York Police Department, from hotels and tourist attractions to City Hall and the World Financial Center, officials said. The soldiers test for biological agents like anthrax and smallpox, monitor for chemical and radiological contamination, and supplement open-air testing done by other government agencies. “We’re out there actively looking for any sort of contamination, whatever that may be,” the unit’s commander, Maj. Kaarlo J. Hietala, said Tuesday. The team, based in upstate New York, was ordered to New York City when the war in Iraq began. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the team has tested for contamination at the Grammys, U.S. Open tennis championships, baseball games and other major events, Hietala said. The unit does preliminary analyses with a mobile laboratory before sending material and data to a government lab. One recent test involved taking a cotton swab sample from an air-filter system that serves a garage below the World Financial Center. Full Story

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