Ce topic appartient à l'appel Disaster-Resilient Society 2023
Identifiant du topic: HORIZON-CL3-2023-DRS-01-03

Operability and standardisation in response to biological toxin incidents

Type d'action : HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions
Nombre d'étapes : Single stage
Date d'ouverture : 29 juin 2023
Date de clôture : 23 novembre 2023 17:00
Budget : €6 000 000
Call : Disaster-Resilient Society 2023
Call Identifier : HORIZON-CL3-2023-DRS-01
Description :


Projects’ results are expected to contribute to some or all of the following outcomes:

  • Improved European crisis management in case of an incident with biological toxins through the development of a pan-European task force of security practitioners, taking into consideration existing intersectoral actions on bioterrorism;
  • New and existing portable devices, technologies and methods for responders to perform on-site detection of biological toxins are brought to the market;
  • Recommendations of effective decontamination measures for personnel, equipment and facilities exposed to biological toxins are provided based on solid experimental testing;
  • Development of an operational European response network of specialised and forensic laboratories, taking into account existing initiatives such as e.g. the HERA Laboratory Network and harmonised procedures/guidelines for forensic analysis of biological toxins applicable to a range of relevant technologies and toxins;
  • The risks for responders from exposure to biological toxins in the hot-zone are assessed and recommendations of protective equipment for working with biological toxins in the hot-zone are developed;
  • Building on existing initiatives and networks, a consolidated platform is established providing support for standardisation efforts in the analysis of biological toxins.


Recent incidents in Europe and worldwide have highlighted the current threat posed by several biological toxins falling under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention. The incidents demonstrated the urgency for countries individually and collectively to improve crisis management capabilities, to advance standardisation efforts and to interconnect security practitioners such as first responders (including health emergency services), law enforcement agencies, specialists from public health (e.g. epidemiologists, environmental health experts), as well as specialised and forensic laboratories across Europe. In order to ensure cross border interoperability, existing and new national procedures need to be developed and implemented in an operational and coherent European crisis response network capable of addressing the threats posed by biological toxins.

To properly manage and minimise the effects of an attack with biological toxins, fast and reliable detection and identification of the used agent is critical. Portable devices, technologies and methods for responders to perform on-site detection of a panel of biological toxins remain to be developed. There is a need for evaluation, training and advancement of on-site detection methods for responders, as well as the integration of emerging detection technologies into marketable solutions.

The safety of responders relies on correct risk assessment and the use of appropriate protective equipment. The risks from exposure to biological toxins in the hot zone are largely unknown. In order to recommend appropriate protective equipment for first responders and to guide the use of effective decontamination measures, the risks from exposure need to be assessed, taking into account sex susceptibility to toxins exposure. The Commission stockpiles personal protective equipment, and links should be sought with this joint DG ECHO-HERA action to make proposals as useful as possible.

Following an attack, exposed personnel, equipment and facilities needs to be decontaminated and declared safe as quickly as possible, in order limit the effects on society. Most decontamination procedures are developed for chemical or biological (i.e. organisms and viruses) agents, but based on their characteristics, biological toxins are at the interface of classical biological and chemical agents. Therefore, the efficiency of existing decontamination procedures should be evaluated for the decontamination of biological toxins.

Previous initiatives have initiated standardisation efforts for lab-based detection and identification of biological toxins. Analytical tools and reference materials are available and comprehensive training and proficiency-testing programs were organised, however, the need for further technical and operational improvement was demonstrated. Building on existing initiatives and networks, a consolidated platform should be established providing analytical tools (including Certified Reference Materials), training and intercomparisons among laboratories. Following the initial detection of the used biological toxin, a more detailed analysis is needed in order to link the agent to confiscated materials. In support of criminal investigations, new procedures and guidelines for comprehensive forensic analysis of biological toxins are needed. The developed methods and procedures should be shared among specialised and forensic laboratories. This action is also expected to engage with the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).

In this context it is important to remind that standardisation should support operations and policymaking to supplement it but should by no means substitute it. While standardisation of technology may be more straightforward, the right balance does especially have to be sought for processes. The action should ensure close synergies with standardisation activities on European (e.g. CEN/TC 391) and international level (e.g. ISO/TC 292).