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University of Iowa News Release


May 6, 2008

University Hygienic Lab 'Spring Forum' coming to six Iowa regions

The University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) is conducting a Spring Forum in six regions across Iowa to update first-responders and laboratory staff about communication steps and decontamination procedures used during chemical terrorism (CT) events.

Spring Forum dates and locations are:

--May 7, Ottumwa
--May 8, Des Moines
--May 13, Mason City
--May 14, Cedar Rapids
--June 3, Sioux City
--June 4, Council Bluffs

Registration and additional information is available on the "Training and Outreach" section of the UHL Web site at There is no charge for the forum.

"The objective is to increase the awareness of the roles of various preparedness partners on how to respond to a CT event, when you should be communicating between these groups, and how to initiate communications," said Bev Pennell, UHL emergency preparedness coordinator. "Laboratory staff members are not usually involved in the communications on the front lines of an event because they are in a lab analyzing specimens. One part of the objectives of the Spring Forum is to make lab staff aware of what goes on out at the site."

Each session will include a decontamination exercise using equipment provided by local HazMat teams.

"If there is a spill and victims are exposed to contaminants, HazMat sets up a 'decon' line," Pennell said. "Part of the exercise will be learning the types of decontamination procedures and what happens in the process of cleaning up after exposure. People don't always realize that they have to scrub down and leave their clothes, and if they need their car keys they'd better have them decontaminated, too, because you can't go back in after them."

In addition to a communications exercise, a seasonal wrap-up on the number of influenza cases in Iowa will be provided by Erin Graf, a fellow from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Association of Public Health Laboratories who is assigned to UHL.

The University Hygienic Laboratory is part of the University of Iowa and is the state of Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory. The UHL is the designated laboratory for the Iowa Neonatal Metabolic Screening Program, with facilities located on the Oakdale Campus in Iowa City and at the Iowa Lab Facilities in Ankeny, a Des Moines suburb.

Among its many services, the laboratory functions as a consultative and analytical support facility for state agencies, health professionals and citizens. The UHL performs analyses on samples from virtually all matrices, including human clinical specimens, air, drinking water, wastewater, soil, sediment, industrial effluents, oil and fish. Additional information about UHL, its programs and services is available online at

STORY SOURCE:  University Hygienic Laboratory, 102 Oakdale Campus, H101 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Blake, 319-335-4177,