Framework for Evaluating Anthrax Risk in Buildings
If Bacillus anthracis (BA), the organism that causes anthrax, is known or suspected to have contaminated a building, a critical decision is what level of contamination is unacceptable. This decision has two components: (1) what is the relationship between the degree of contamination and the risk to occupants, (2) and what is an acceptable risk to occupants? These lead to a further decision: (3) how many samples must be taken to determine whether a building is unacceptably contaminated? We discuss existing data that bear on these questions, and introduce a nomogram that can be used to investigate the relationship between risk of contracting anthrax, the surface concentration of BA, the probability of detection, and the number of samples needed to ensure detection with a given degree of certainty. The same approach could be used for other agents that are dangerous due to resuspension of deposited particles.