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CBRN-threats are defined as the protection against the impact of chemical (C), biological (B) as well as radiological (R) and nuclear (N) threats.

Therefore, the expression CBRN replaces the term ABC which was exclusively used in the past, “A” stands for so-called “atomic threats“. The improved sub-division of the “A”-threats into radiological (R) and nuclear (N) threats describes the various types of release of a radioactive contamination.
“Nuclear“ refers to explosions caused by nuclear weapons and their repercussions as well as radioactive substances of the nuclear cycle; “radiological” refers to the further types of release, above all as a radioactive dispersion in form of a radioactive dispersion device (e.g.: “dirty bomb”).

CBRN-substances1 can enter the environment in two ways, either caused by deliberate acts or due to an accident, for example during transport, and thus become a danger to the population. As the impact on those affected is concerned, it is of no real importance which of the reasons is responsible for the release of hazardous CBRN-substances.

In order to be protected against CBRN threats after the release of a dangerous substance, three aspects are of vital importance:

  • Protection of people in the danger zone by means of appropriate measures, for example protective clothing, rules of conduct
  • Quick detection and identification of the specific danger
  • Counteractions if exposed to a hazardous substance, for example decontamination, rules of conduct
  • As these three aspects are concerned, BBK provides professional and scientific advice as well as technical support.

In their own laboratories and in close cooperation with the Federal Laender as well as with research institutions and relevant industry, methods, CBRN protective clothing, procedures and systems for civil protection are developed and put into practical solutions.

Examples of this approach are, among others, the Personal Protective Clothing (PSA), the ABC-reconnaissance vehicle (ABC-ErkKW)2 and the decontamination-lorry (Dekon-P). These vehicles are provided by BBK to the Federal Laender for threat prevention and are continuously further developed.

In the framework of interdisciplinary cooperation, concepts for CBRN-protection are developed and implemented into the system of civil protection in Germany.
Examples for this approach are the framework concept for the decontamination of injured people, the uniform standards for reconnaissance and the concept for the assignment of specialists with chemical and analytical background, the Analytical Task Force (ATF).

Continuous research activities, above all in the sector of measuring and detection technology, also belong to the field of CBRN-protection. To this end, BBK does mission oriented research with external research institutions and the industry.

The aim of this research is always to come up with a practice-oriented solution for use in civil protection. The latest example of such mission oriented research is the infrared remote reconnaissance device SIGIS 2, which was, for example, used during the Football World Championship of 2006 for the preventive surveillance of stadiums and fan venues.

For all subjects concerning CBRN-protection, BBK provides information material. Flyers and publications with information about vehicles and equipment as well as references to the right conduct in the case of threat are published and updated at regular intervals.

1) As CBRN-substances all substances (substances, preparations, agents, ...) are summarised which are able to damage man and the environment.
Above all, in the sector of chemical hazardous substances, classical “warfare agents” and industrial chemical waste are not differentiated as this differentiation makes only sense from a historical point of view, if at all.

2) The designation “ABC-ErkKW” is still used as the proper name of the vehicle in spite of the fact that the term CBRN has replaced ABC.

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