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Enhancing Capability of the Maryland Radiation Laboratory to Respond to Food Radiology Incidents and Provide Continuing Radiological Surveillance


The Laboratories Administration, like many other state public health laboratories, is still seeking additional resources to further develop its capabilities and capacities for radiological food safety and surveillance monitoring. Maryland’s Public Health Laboratory is designated as an LRN Level 2 Lab. This cooperative agreement would support the national program goals and that of Maryland’s emergency radiological food testing and surveillance program. It would a l s o provide the only routine radiological lab services within 90 miles of Baltimore and the National Capital Region, a region with a population of over 6MM people. It is home to one of the largest sea- and airport in the Nation and, by surrounding the District of Columbia on three sides, includes a major portion of the National Capital Region. Maryland faces a range of radiological challenges, both man-made and naturally occurring that can manifest themselves in our food supply. It presents significant challenges for food protection with an intimate mix of urban and rural environments and activities. It has one nuclear power plant at Calvert Cliffs and one nuclear power plant on its border with Pennsylvania at Peach Bottom. Additionally, the central and eastern half of the State lies within the ingestion pathway zones of three nuclear power plants. In terms of naturally occurring sources, western Maryland sits upon the Marcellus Shale formation that runs along the western panhandle of the State joining West Virginia and Pennsylvania, a known source of radioactivity which is also a potential fracking site for natural gas recovery. The Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay has a potential issue with radon and other radionuclides released from the aquifers that are used to provide irrigation water in Maryland. The State has both a significant ethnic population of diverse cultural backgrounds and a regular high level of both international and interstate travelers. Recognizing the risk to the state’s residents due to the potential impacts to our drinking water and food supply, we need to establish baseline data by conducting environmental surveillance monitoring for radiation from various agricultural, mining, and manufacturing communities where there is potentially the risk of exposure to environmental radiological hazards. The Laboratories Administration has chosen a list of radiological compounds to detect and measure in food commodities that are of interest to Maryland. By this application, the Administration proposes to further develop and maintain a food safety and surveillance monitoring of food commodities for radiological contamination. In support of this cooperative agreement, the Laboratories Administration will focus a substantial portion of this proposal towards developing methods, willingly participate i n laboratory preparedness exercises, drills, and PTs, food emergency responses, obtain and maintain ISO 17025 accreditation for all tests utilized for this project, redirect routine testing when FERN is activated in order to better serve FERN’s mission, and allocate appropriate funding for staff to travel to training or conferences/meetings. The Administration further propose to develop and maintain this project by recruiting and hiring a contractual staff, purchase instrument and equipment, lab supplies, develop and implement a sampling plan, and conduct project evaluation and assessment. The Laboratories Administration proposes to carry out this project in Year 1 with a requested funding of $240,000 and continue in Years 2 through 5 with a budget of $960,000.

Kassim, Prince A
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
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