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NC Department of Health and Human Services
State Laboratory of Public Health
N.C. Public Health Home

Chemical Terrorism and Threat (CTAT) Unit

CTAT Overview

CTAT Staff
  • Created in 2002 to respond to chemical acts of terrorism by testing potentially exposed persons for cyanide and metals. The unit has expanded this role to currently respond to acts of terrorism, accidental exposures, occupational exposures, and the identification of unknown substances.
  • The CTAT is an enhanced level 2 laboratory participating in the laboratory response network for chemical emergencies. As part of the network the CTAT can respond to national events or assist other states to adsorb surge testing.
  • The CTAT unit is staffed with four chemists. 24 hour continual operations are managed by rotating 2 person 12 hour shifts throughout an event.
  • All clinical testing is conducting using mass spectrometry. Two ICP/MS’s are employed for the metals testing. Four GC/MS systems are used for testing cyanide, tetramine, volatile organic compounds, and unknowns. One HPLC/MS/MS system is used for the testing of exposure to nerve and chemical warfare agents, metabolic toxins, tetranitromethane, as well as ricin and abrin exposures.

The Importance of CTAT

  • The only conclusive way to confirm exposure is to perform clinical testing.
  • The CTAT is a 24/7 response to chemical exposures ranging from accidental exposure to overt acts of terrorism.
  • The CTAT can identify or rule out chemicals in the testing of unknowns such as white powders.
  • The CTAT provides national support for CDC and other states to perform surge testing.
  • The ability to respond after hours and respond quickly is designed into the unit.
  • The highly specific tests for several of the exposures the CTAT routinely tests for are not available in any hospital or commercial laboratory.

CTAT Unit Information