CDC halts work in its highest security laboratories over equipment concern
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has temporarily suspended work in its highest security laboratories because of concerns about critical air supply hoses that attach to full-body suits that protect scientists against exposure to the world’s most deadly viruses
The air hoses, which have been used by about 100 workers inside CDC’s biosafety level 4 labs in Atlanta since they opened in 2008, may never have been intended to be used for carrying breathable air, the agency announced Friday. The CDC said it learned of the potential issue on Monday, as the agency was in the process of ordering replacement air hoses for the first time since the maximum containment labs went “hot” nearly a decade ago inside its $214 million Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory building.
Steve Monroe, CDC’s associate director for laboratory science and safety, said the action is being taken out of an abundance of caution. “There is no reason to suspect these hoses contained any toxic material,” Monroe said in an interview. He said CDC will be testing the air coming out of the hoses to see if it meets federal standards for breathable air. Results are expected next week.
USA TODAY revealed last month that these same air hoses have a history of disconnecting from CDC lab workers’ suits as they do experiments with lethal and often untreatable pathogens such as the Ebola virus.
“The air hose connector on my suit came off while I was working in [redacted] again,” a CDC scientist wrote in a May 2013 email to other agency staff. The email was among dozens of heavily redacted lab accident reports the CDC took nearly two years to release in response to a federal Freedom of Information Act request filed by USA TODAY in January 2015.
The scientist wrote that a colleague helped them “get out safely, reattaching my hose as best he could … I live to work another day!” The CDC sent out a mass email to about 40 lab workers the same day reminding them to make sure that their protective suits are in working order and to “be sure to pay attention to your breathing air hose” and ensure connections are tight, the records obtained by USA TODAY showed.
In response to USA TODAY’s report, leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked CDC to provide a full accounting of all lab incidents at the agency since 2012.
Monroe said Friday he didn’t know why CDC facilities staff had recently decided it was time to replace the air hoses, but that he didn’t think it had to do with disconnection issues. When facilities staff contacted the company that now owns the firm that made the hoses, they were told that the hoses were not certified for use with breathable air. The CDC and Monroe would not name the company.
The CDC is contacting other operators of biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) labs that may use similar hoses. But so far, Monroe said, they have not found other labs that have been using the same hoses.
About 80 to 100 air hoses dangle from the ceiling in the CDC’s BSL-4 labs. Lab workers, connect to the nearest hoses as they work in various locations in the labs. The hoses supply purified air that is used for both breathing and creating positive pressure inside the moonsuit-like protective gear.
Monroe said the CDC expected to get a small shipment of hoses on Friday night, which will allow the agency to do critical work until additional hoses are obtained. He said the reporting of the issue to his office and the agency’s transparency about it with staff and the public is an example of safety improvements at the embattled agency. “To me this is a success of our efforts over the last two years to enhance the culture of safety with laboratory staff,” Monroe said.
Lab safety at the CDC has been under intense scrutiny since 2014 when the agency had a series of high-profile lab incidents involving anthrax, Ebola and a deadly strain of avian influenza. An ongoing USA TODAY investigation has revealed that the CDC’s labs have faced secret federal sanctions, and it has also found hundreds of safety accidents at other public and private research facilities nationwide.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017 … /98065184/
Think about this for a moment! The experts who are there to save us – are too incompetent to know what their equipment is intended to be used for and are willing to lie to cover up their mistakes! Do you feel safe? Swamp
Statistics: Posted by daaswampman — Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:35 pm