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Chemical Exposure Laboratory

If you have been exposed to a poisonous chemical agent, IMMEDIATELY contact the Palmetto Poison Center (website) at 1-800-222-1222

The Chemical Exposure Laboratory expanded its scope of testing to include applied research and method development in the areas of biomonitoring and chemical threat agents. This work is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement.

As a member of the Laboratory Response Network for Chemical Threats (website) (LRN-C), the Chemical Exposure Laboratory serves as a surge-capacity laboratory for the CDC to provide rapid and effective analysis of clinical specimens for chemical threat agents likely to be used in terrorism. These laboratory measurements will support the response to a public health emergency involving chemical threat agents by guiding emergency medical care and public health emergency management through the identification of the chemical threat agent(s) used and the determination of an individual’s level of exposure.

The biomonitoring component focuses on the assessment of chronic exposure to sub-lethal levels of toxic chemical substances by the laboratory measurement of these substances, or their metabolites, in human specimens, e.g., blood, urine and/or saliva.

The chemical agents and analytic methods utilized for the biomonitoring component are similar to those of the chemical threat component, which enables the dual functionally of the unit. Compounds analyzed include mercury, barium, beryllium, lead, cadmium, arsenic, thallium, uranium, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These services are available to clinicians treating patients possibly exposed to these compounds.

Instrumentation utilized by the unit for biomonitoring and chemical exposure testing includes GC, ICP, LC, and MS.

Clinical specimen analysis is available for the following chemical agents:

  • Cyanides
  • Trace metals
  • Toxic industrial chemicals
  • Chemical warfare agents

Chemical Agent Fact Sheets (website)

Collection of Chemical Exposure Specimens

If a chemical terrorism/exposure event should occur, measures are in place to provide analysis of clinical samples (blood and urine) through the LRN-C. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the capacity to conduct a rapid toxic screen for clinical specimens collected from individuals potentially exposed to chemical threat agents. These samples must be submitted through the S.C. DHEC Chemical Exposure Laboratory for analysis.

Training

There are unique protocols in place for the collection, packaging and shipping of clinical specimens obtained from a chemical terrorism/exposure event. The Chemical Exposure Laboratory provides on-site and in-house sample collection, packaging and shipping training to health care providers and first responders. The training covers, but is not limited to:

  • Background information on the Chemical Exposure Laboratory
  • Brief description of chemical threat agents
  • Role of the CDC, Chemical Exposure Laboratory, and hospitals in a chemical terrorism/exposure event
  • Clinical specimen collection and storage protocol
  • Chain-of-custody protocol

A Chemical Exposure Laboratory Response Kit is will be provided for each organization attending the training. The kit contains training documents as well as materials unique to the sample collection process (e.g. evidence tape, biohazard bags, chain-of-custody forms).

The training takes approximately one hour. Certificates are awarded upon completion of the training. For more information, or to set up a training session, please contact the laboratory via telephone at 1-803-896-0886 or e-mail at ctu@dhec.sc.gov.

Useful Information

Sample Collection, Packaging and Shipping Information for Health Professionals

Important Contacts

Chemical Exposure Laboratory Contacts

Staff Phone, Email Info | DHEC Locations | Organizational Charts