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Development and Demonstration of a Method to Evaluate Bio-Sampling Strategies using Building Simulation and Sample Planning Software



William S. Dols, Jayne B. Morrow, Andrew K. Persily, Brett Matzke, Landon Sego, Lisa Nuffer, Brent Pulsipher


In an effort to validate and demonstrate response and recovery sampling approaches and technologies, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), along with several other agencies, have simulated a bio-terrorist release within a facility at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) on two separate occasions in the fall of 2007 and the fall of 2008. Because these events constitute only two realizations of many possible scenarios, increased understanding of sampling strategies can be obtained by virtually examining a wide variety of release and dispersion scenarios using computer simulations. This research effort demonstrates the use of two software tools, CONTAM, developed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), and Visual Sample Plan (VSP), developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The CONTAM modeling software was used to virtually contaminate a model of the INL test building under various release and dissemination scenarios as well as a range of building design and operation parameters. The results of these numerous CONTAM simulations were then used to investigate the relevance and performance of various sampling strategies using VSP. One of the fundamental outcomes of this project was the demonstration of how CONTAM and VSP can be used together to effectively develop sampling plans to support the various stages of response to an airborne chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear event. Following such an event (or prior to an event), incident details and the conceptual site model could be used to create an ensemble of CONTAM simulations which model contaminant dispersion within a building. These predictions could then be used to identify priority area zones within the building and then sampling designs and strategies could be developed based on those zones.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1636
Report Number


agent, biological, modeling, planning, response, sampling


Dols, W. , Morrow, J. , Persily, A. , Matzke, B. , Sego, L. , Nuffer, L. and Pulsipher, B. (2009), Development and Demonstration of a Method to Evaluate Bio-Sampling Strategies using Building Simulation and Sample Planning Software, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 16, 2024)


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Created June 1, 2009, Updated November 10, 2018