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Fumigation of Danbury, Conn. Residence to Eliminate Anthrax Will Occur Between Dec. 18-20

Release Date: 12/12/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Danbury, Conn. – Dec. 12, 2007) – Following weeks of planning to develop a protective clean up plan, the federal and state agencies responsible for coordinating efforts to address anthrax contamination at a Danbury residence will implement final clean up measures beginning on Dec. 15.

The clean up work is being led by the U.S. EPA, in coordination with the City of Danbury, the Conn. Dept. of Public Health, the Conn. Dept. of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, operating under a Unified Command structure.

Over the weekend, work crews will deliver equipment and the house itself will be enclosed in an air-tight tent, which will contain chlorine dioxide gas as it is pumped into the structure, ensuring that all anthrax spores are destroyed without releasing the gas into the surrounding atmosphere. The tent used for the fumigation of the home is similar to those used by exterminators when fumigating for pests. There is no public health concern associated with the fumigation of the home. Several homes neighboring the fumigated home will be evacuated, as the fumigation process will continue throughout the night, possibly causing a noise disturbance to those neighbors.

Fumigation of the house was the agreed-upon clean up method to control any viable anthrax spores currently found in the structure. Fumigation using a chlorine dioxide gas is an effective way to neutralize living or viable anthrax spores. The Unified Command agencies are taking every precaution to ensure that the fumigation work is done with utmost care to ensure that people living in the surrounding neighborhood are not at risk.

In consultation with the City of Danbury, the Unified Command is making every effort to minimize disruption to nearby residents using Route 37. During preliminary site preparations over the weekend, we do not anticipate significant road closures. The road will need to be closed for clean up activities, both on Monday, Dec. 17 between 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and also for an extended period beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18, with planned reopening during the morning of Thurs. Dec. 20.

The Unified Command has consulted with EPA's National Decontamination Team, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and with EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. State and EPA experts on safe use of pesticides have been involved in developing and reviewing plans to use chlorine dioxide gas to neutralize the remaining viable anthrax spores in the residence.

Public health officials confirmed that anthrax is not a contagious condition and there is no community public health concern. The naturally-occurring strain of anthrax is thought to derive from animal skins that were used in the construction of traditional African drums.

More information:

- Dedicated EPA Web information on this clean up (epa.gov/region1/er/sites/danbury)
- Area residents can call CT DPH regarding anthrax and exposure, toll-free (800) 830-9426
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on anthrax from animal hides (www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax/faq/pelt.asp)

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Contacts: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

    Bill Gerrish, CT DPH (860) 509-7106
    Dennis Schain, CT DEP (860) 424-3110
    Michael McLachlan, Office of Mayor Boughton, (203) 797-4511