Human-caused Hazards

Human Caused-Incidents: Result from the intentional actions of an adversary, such as a threatened or actual chemical attack, biological attack, or cyber incident. 



Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

With its numerous ports, petro-chemical and agricultural industry and multi-ethnic population, Louisiana is a particularly vulnerable state. The sheer volume of materials imported and exported through our ports, river infrastructure, railroads and interstate highways offer a significant challenge to control and monitor.


This difficulty, along with the potential economic and social impacts across the national and global economy, makes the threat to Louisiana extremely high.


Protecting the citizens of Louisiana from terrorist threats is a primary mission of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and remains a priority. Our daily efforts are concentrated on providing a secure Nation and State.


Biological Agents
Biological agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and crops. A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick. The three basic groups of biological agents that would likely be used as weapons are bacteria, viruses and toxins.

Most biological agents are difficult to grow and maintain. Many break down quickly when exposed to sunlight and other environmental factors, while others, such as anthrax spores, are very long lived.

Delivery methods of biological agents include:

  • Aerosols – Biological agents are dispersed into the air, forming a fine mist that may drift for miles. Inhaling the agent may cause disease in people or animals.
  • Animals – Some diseases are spread by insects and animals, such as fleas, mice, flies, mosquitoes and livestock.
  • Food and water contaminationSome pathogenic organisms and toxins may persist in food and water supplies. Most microbes can be killed and toxins deactivated by cooking food and boiling water. Most microbes are killed by boiling water for one minute, but some require longer. Follow official instructions.
  • Person-to-personSpread of a few infectious agents is also possible. Humans have been the source of infection for smallpox, plague, and the Lassa viruses.
Is It a Radiological or Nuclear Incident?  

Nuclear incidents involve detonation of a nuclear device whereas radiological incidents produce radiation without detonation of a nuclear device. 

Radiological incidents 
  • Victim can have contamination and/or exposure 
  • Examples: Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD): explosive/non-explosive; radiological exposure device (RED) 
Nuclear incidents (blast, detonation, explosion)
  • Involves a nuclear explosion (fission) 
  • Victims can have contamination and/or exposure 
  • Examples:
    • Nuclear weapon detonation
    • Improvised Nuclear Device detonation 
Chemical Agents

Chemical agents are poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids and solids that have toxic effects on people, animals or plants. They can be released by bombs or sprayed from aircraft, boats and vehicles. They can be used as a liquid to create a hazard to people and the environment. Some chemical agents may be odorless and tasteless. They can have an immediate effect (a few seconds to a few minutes) or a delayed effect (2 to 48 hours). While potentially lethal, chemical agents are difficult to deliver in lethal concentrations. Outdoors, the agents often dissipate rapidly. Chemical agents also are difficult to produce.

A chemical attack could come without warning. Signs of a chemical release include people having difficulty breathing; experiencing eye irritation; losing coordination; becoming nauseated; or having a burning sensation in the nose, throat and lungs. Also, the presence of many dead insects or birds may indicate a chemical agent release.