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Q50: Quantifying Chemical Biological Threats

Q50: Quantifying Chemical Biological Threats

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Published by Reid Kirby
An article I wrote for the US Army Chemical Review on a method for estimating the quantitiy of chemical or biological agent needed to render a casualty effect on a notional target.
An article I wrote for the US Army Chemical Review on a method for estimating the quantitiy of chemical or biological agent needed to render a casualty effect on a notional target.

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Published by: Reid Kirby on Nov 21, 2010
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11/21/2010

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Winter 200741
Q
Q
50
50
: Quantifying Chemical
: Quantifying Chemical
-
 -
Biological Threats
Biological Threats
 By Mr. Reid Kirby
There is a military adage which states that “Amateurstalk tactics; generals talk logistics.” While it is true thatchemical-biological (CB) weapons are area weapons, theyare also mass-action weapons that require hundreds of tonsof chemicals or hundreds of pounds of biological agents torepresent a significant threat. Lesser amounts are generallyconsidered more of a destabilizing nuisance than an actualcombat power; the minor amounts attributed to potentialterrorism merely signify fringe criminality.In hopes of establishing international agreementsand controls that would eliminate CB weapons, thedisarmament and counterproliferation communitieshave concerned themselves with determining thethreshold above which CB agents are consideredexcessive for legitimate research or commercial activities.These threshold levels signify points of concern—not points where developing CB arsenals are considered anappreciable threat. What does it mean when informationindicates that Libya has 100 tons of mustard gas (H)or North Korea has 1,000 to 5,000 tons of a variety of chemical agents? A generalized means of assessing such“threats” is necessary.One means of assessing the threat is to compare thelogistics required for various CB weapons. By determiningthe quantity of CB agent necessary to produce an effectthreat and by understanding potential enemy doctrine and battlefield constraints, it may be possible to estimate thearea and the number of targets that could be impacted byan emerging CB arsenal. This article presents a workablemethod for this analysis.
1
 
Calder’s Legacy
The English physicist Sir Geoffrey Taylor initiatedthe first systematic treatment of eddy motion in theatmosphere in 1915. Following World War I, the BritishChemical Warfare Establishment at Porton Downattempted to improve upon chemical warfare meteorologythrough controlled experiments with smoke on SalisburyPlain. This work, in turn, led to O.G. Sutton’s theory of eddy diffusion and the birth of atmospheric diffusionmodeling as we know it today. Sutton’s understudy atPorton Down was meteorologist Kenneth L. Calder. Inthe 1950s, the Army Biological Warfare Laboratories(BWL) at Camp Detrick (now Fort Detrick), Maryland,managed to employ Calder to work out biological weaponexpenditure problems based on atmospheric diffusionmodeling.It is apparent from Calder’s reports that he was brilliant, but isolated from the rest of the atmosphericdiffusion analysis community working on chemicalwarfare problems. His work in biological warfare ledhim to use exponential dose-response relationships (i.e.,independent action), rather than traditional probit analysis,further alienating his work from mainstream chemicalweapon effects modeling.Calder often reduced the complexity of his calculations by making general comparisons. He also relied on smallsamples of field trial data to represent typical employmentconditions. His vast field experience likely allowedhim to make decisions that the insufficiently accurate
 
 Army Chemical Review 42 
models lacked the complexity to make. With a scarcityof computers in the 1950s, Calder produced a series of tables used to estimate biological weapon coverage. The biological warfare community continued to use thesetables into the 1990s (Gulf War).In the 1990s, William Patrick and Richard Spertzeldeveloped a graph which plotted the toxicity of an agentagainst the quantity of that agent required to produce aneffective exposure. This graph (Figure 1), which was based on Calder’s tables in BWL Technical Study #3 andwidely distributed in
 Defense Against Toxin Weapons
,illustrates that by knowing the lethal dose, 50 percent(LD
50
)—the dose required to kill half the members of atested population—of a potential CB agent, it is possible totheoretically determine the quantity of the agent necessary(Q
50
), under ideal meteorological conditions, to achievea 50 percent casualty rate for an open-air exposure in a100-square-kilometer (km
2
) area. The following equationcan be derived from the graph:
Q
50
(kilograms [kg]/km
2
 ) = 32,000 · LD
50
(milligrams[mg]/kg)
At first glance, this appears to be a useful meansof identifying the logistics associated with various CBweapons; however, in practice, there are limitations tothis methodology that prevent its usefulness beyondthe illustrative purposes for which it was originallyintended.
2
Figure 1. Toxicity (LD
50
) versus quantity of toxinrequired (Q
50
) to provide a theorectically effectiveopen-air exposure under ideal meteorologicalconditions (after Franz, 1997)
2,500.0000250.000025.00002.50000.25000.02500.00258880800808008,000
KilogramsTonsQ
50
(per 100 km
2
)
   L   D
   5   0 
   (  μ  g   /   k  g   )
Highly toxicMosttoxicModerately toxic
Posological Theorem
CB warfare is, in essence, the delivery of a quantityof agent to a target, subjecting those within the target toa dosage that results in a casualty-causing dose. Thereis a mathematically transitive relationship among dose,dosage, and quantity; so doubling the dose correspondsto doubling the dosage and the quantity. Further, a dosemay have multiple dosages, and these dosages may havemultiple quantities, owing to the refinements of addedconditions.The relationship between the dose and the percentof resultant casualties can be described using a probitanalysis or an independent-action model. An expectedcasualty rate can be inferred from the dose received or the dosage of exposure. It is the relationship betweenthe dosage and the quantity that requires a method of calculation.To calculate quantity, the issue of CB weaponcoverage can be simplified by considering a square targetarea oriented squarely to the release of the CB agent alongthe upwind side (Figure 2). As a rule, when half the targetarea is covered with a median dosage, the integratedcasualty rate for the entire target area is about equal tothe casualty rate associated with that particular dosage.Therefore, the quantity of agent required to achieve a 50 percent casualty rate depends on the amount of agent thatmust be released on the upwind side to attain a mediandosage halfway through the target.This method is mathematically derived from thereduction of atmospheric diffusion models. The Gaussianmodel for a point source expands to that for a finite linesource, which reduces to that of an infinite line source byextending the source length toward infinity. Assumingthat the source height and sampling height are both at thesurface (z = 0), then it follows that— 
Where—  D = dosage (mg.min/m
3
 )
u
= wind speed (m/min)
Λ
 = conditional adjustment factor q = quantity released on a line (in mg/meter [m])
z
δ
= atmospheric diffusion parameter 
With some algebra, some adjustments to convertquantity per meter of line source to total quantity, and
z
2quD
δπ
=Λ
 
Winter 200743
some adjustments of units, the equation takes on theform— 
X2uDQ
z
 ⎠ ⎞⎝ ⎛ Λ=
δπ
Where— Q = quantity of CB agent needed (kg/km
2
 ) X = windward dimension of a target (m)
This model can be adapted to produce figures for different target sizes (Figure 3), target conditions(Figure 4, page 44), windspeeds, and atmosphericstabilities (Figure 5, page 44).
Evaluation
As a test of the model presented, Field Manual (FM)3-10 was used to calculate theQ
50
for sarin (GB), assuming aneffects component of 3.22 thatcorresponds to 0- to 5-knot winds,open terrain, no precipitation,and high temperatures. Thismethod indicated that 40 M121155-millimeter (mm) projectileswould be needed to produce a 50 percent casualty rate on a 1-km
2
 target area. This translates to aQ
50
of 118 kg/km
2
.The method described byPatrick and Spertzel yields aresult of 214 kg/km
2
for the samescenario,
 
assuming a medianincapacitating dose (ID
50
) for GB of 0.0067 mg/kg.Using the Posological Theorem with a dosage required toincapacitate half the members of an exposed population
 (
ICt
50
) of 50 mg·min/m
3
resulted in a Q
50
of 119 kg/km
2
.The dose-only methods of determining the Q
50
, bydefinition, fail to explain the differences between doseand dosage, and, thence, dosage and quantity.
3
Application
In the 1960s, the United States purchased 100,000 pounds of the incapacitating agent BZ—probably one of the most expensive military chemicals ever standardized by the United States; 10,000 pounds went to researchand development, leaving about 90,000 pounds for fillingchemical weapons. What was the chemical combat power associated with this purchase?Using the Patrick-Spertzel method, an ID
50
of 0.0116mg/kg for BZ, yields a Q
50
of 371 kg/km
2
. Dividing 90,000 pounds (or 40,823 kg) by this result suggests that the ColdWar arsenal of BZ would have been capable of producing50 percent casualties over a 110-km
2
area.From the information in FM 3-10B, BZ weaponswere intended to cover half of a 1- to 2-hectare target areawith an ICt
50
of 110 mg·min/m
3
under neutral atmosphericstability and 10-knot winds. This indicates a Q
50
of 1,284kg/km
2
in the open and 4,246 kg/km
2
in an urban terraincomplex. Therefore, the BZ arsenal was capable of 
Figure 2. A notional CB targetFigure 3. The approximate size of a notional target is proportional to theduration of a CB agent.
Comparative sizeCivilian Military
GeographicareaMetro areaCityTownDistrictBlockHouseCorpsDivisionBrigadeRegimentBattalionPlatoonSquad10,0001,000100101100101MinutesHoursDaysWeeksMonths
Ω
ha km
2
Duration of actionTarget area
km
2
= square kilometer ha = hectare

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