Direct Response for Public Assistance

MDE has been providing direct response to citizens concerned about anthrax or other potential biological agents that may be used in a terrorist attack. 

NOTE:  Any confirmed or suspected case of anthrax or bioterrorism incidents must be reported IMMEDIATELY to the local Health Department or the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene at 410-767-5866.  Other inquiries about bioterrorism may be channeled through the County Health Departments.


MDE's Emergency Response Division (ERD) has been responding to hundreds of calls about unknown substances or suspected biological agents, particularly white, beige or tan powders, since the first report of anthrax threats. To ensure the most effective response, MDE’s ERD personnel coordinate with local emergency responders and hazardous Materials teams to assess each of these calls. While most of these calls are ultimately handled by local hazardous material response teams, ERD responds to all areas where no local HAZMAT teams exist or to support the local teams when requested. No anthrax nor any other biological agent has been found in any of these activities in Maryland. 


Following the identification of anthrax at the Brentwood mail facility in Washington, DC, actions were taken to ensure the safety of mail processed through that facility. While federal inspectors are conducting assessments of the U.S. Postal Service facilities, MDE has coordinated with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and a specially trained National Guard unit and is conducting environmental assessments of those large private or corporate mail facilities in Maryland that receive their mail from Brentwood.


MDE's Emergency Response Division also continues to provide training to state and local responders to properly address potential chemical, biological and radiological threats. Emergency response personnel have conducted hazardous material technician courses, basic unknown substance response training and radiation emergency training for emergency responders in local jurisdictions. 


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