Health Hazard Assessment (HHA)

 Hazard Category - Biological Substances

Last Updated: July 19, 2021
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‚ÄčBiological Substances

Coordinate with the Health Hazard Assessment (HHA) Program early in the acquisition process in order to eliminate or control potential exposure to biological substances. This early involvement is important to identify potential engineering changes that could have the most useful impact in mitigating the health hazard. Multiple subject matter experts across APHC (such as the Environmental Health Sciences and Engineering Directorate and Food Protection and Public Health Sanitation Division) provide input for HHAs related to biological substances.

The health effects of exposure to biological substances vary according to many different factors including, but not limited to, the specific pathogen or agent of concern, the route of entry, and the susceptibility of the person exposed. Exposure to biological substances can occur via inhalation, ingestion, or absorption. A few examples of health effects due to biological substance exposure include fever, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritations, hemorrhage, and sepsis.

Biological substances are any material that contains a microorganism (e.g., bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, parasites, or fungi), human or animal products (e.g., blood, tissue, bodily fluids), insects, plants, or toxic compounds produced by microorganisms, plants, animals, or insects that can cause disease in humans or animals. Materiel equipment/systems, such as field food service, hygiene facilities, field laundry, water treatment, waste management, kennels, medical transport, mortuary affairs, and clothing items may be sources of potentially hazardous exposure to biological substances.

Data Requirements

Provide a description of the system design, to include function and structure (e.g., diagrams, construction materials, industry standards). Describe the system's use scenario including information such as the length of operations, capacity of the system (number of people supported), set-up configurations, and maintenance and cleaning procedures. Provide any test data for performance requirements related to the biological hazard (e.g., water temperature, swatch testing, filtration performance).

Health Protection Criteria

Aspects of design (e.g., structure, materials, space allowance, ventilation, temperature controls, cross-contamination prevention, pest control, and industry standards) are considered in comparison to the established public health standards. Depending on the hazard source and type, these standards may include federal regulations, Army regulations and guidelines, Army Techniques Publications, and other sources. Assessors should have expertise in sanitation and hygiene standards, public health regulations, and disease transmission. Appropriate substitution (e.g., nonporous for porous materials), engineering controls (e.g., ventilation), warnings, administrative controls (e.g., cleaning procedures), and personal protective equipment may be required depending on the hazard and identified deficiencies.

For more information and guidelines for assessing biological substances, see Technical Guide 351D, Health Hazard Assessor's Guide: Chemical and Biological Health Hazards.