Transport of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki from an outdoor release into buildings: pathways of infiltration and a rapid method to identify contaminated buildings

Biosecur Bioterror. 2012 Jun;10(2):215-27. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2011.0081. Epub 2012 Jun 7.


Understanding the fate and transport of biological agents into buildings will be critical to recovery and restoration efforts after a biological attack in an urban area. As part of the Interagency Biological Restoration Demonstration (IBRD), experiments were conducted in Fairfax County, VA, to study whether a biological agent can be expected to infiltrate into buildings following a wide-area release. Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki is a common organic pesticide that has been sprayed in Fairfax County for a number of years to control the gypsy moth. Because the bacterium shares many physical and biological properties with Bacillus anthracis, the results from these studies can be extrapolated to a bioterrorist release. In 2009, samples were collected from inside buildings located immediately adjacent to a spray block. A combined probabilistic and targeted sampling strategy and modeling were conducted to provide insight into likely methods of infiltration. Both the simulations and the experimental results indicate sampling entryways and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) filters are reasonable methods for "ruling in" a building as contaminated. Following a biological attack, this method is likely to provide significant savings in time and labor compared to more rigorous, statistically based characterization. However, this method should never be used to "rule out," or clear, a building.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Conditioning
  • Air Microbiology*
  • Air Movements
  • Air Pollution, Indoor*
  • Bacillus anthracis / isolation & purification
  • Bacillus thuringiensis / isolation & purification*
  • Biohazard Release
  • Bioterrorism
  • Cities
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Filtration
  • Heating
  • Humans
  • Microbial Viability
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Specimen Handling
  • Ventilation