the chemical and physical characteristics of water, such as pH, alkalinity, and color. This makes it difficult to test a water source for contamination. However, when the water has an excessive chlorine demand, it should be viewed with concern. The excessive demand could be due to microorganisms. Other indicators are as follows: aircraft dropping or spraying of unidentified material; unusual types of bombs, particularly one which bursts with little or no blast; smoke and mist of an unknown substance: unusual increase in insects, such as mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas; increased occurrence of sick or dead animals; increased incidents of troop sickness and disease; or intelligence reports indicating enemy use of a biological contaminant.
Although nuclear weapons have been used in combat, there are no reliable data as to the effect of nuclear explosions on field water supplies. However, available fallout data leave no doubt that contamination of water supplies by this means must be considered. Since radiation is not detectable by human senses, you should use instruments and laboratory tests to determine its presence.
A nuclear attack over or near a source of water supply will probably cause its contamination with radioactive materials. A nuclear explosion could cause contamination by any of the following (listed in the decreasing order of importance to the water point operator):
Fallout of fission products
Induced activity in the water and surrounding soil
Blow-in or wash-in of radioactive dust
Fallout of unfissioned uranium or plutonium
The magnitude of contamination depends upon the yield of the weapon, the location of the detonation with respect to the water source, and whether it is air, surface, or subsurface burst.
If chemical, biological, or radiological agents, or any combination of these, are used, the field water supply will inevitably be involved. It is impossible to foresee what type of agent will be used, but effective security measures can decrease and counteract the hazards of all three types of agents.
Effective security involves prompt and accurate detection. Contamination by chemical agents usually, although not always, leaves significant signs that should arouse immediate suspicion. These are drastic lowering of the pH value of the water, characteristic odors and tastes, and dead fish. If chemical contamination is suspected, the medical officer will have medical personnel test the water with the Chemical Agent Water Testing Kit M272. A complete technical and operational breakdown of this kit can be found in Army TM-3-6665-319-10.
Advice and guidance from the medical officer must be sought and followed carefully when water contaminated by CBR agents must be treated and used. Specialized training of personnel in the latest means of detection and treatment will aid water supply technicians in safeguarding the lives and health of personnel.
If contamination of any type, by CBRContinue Reading