Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Reference Resource

Publication Date: 01 January 2008

This resource pack was initially developed by us prior to the G8 summit in 2005, and was updated in 2008.

It has been distributed to Accident and Emergency departments and others involved in first-line treatment and therefore most likely to be involved in the initial contact with a victim of either an overt or covert attack or deliberate release of a terrorist agent.


Its main aim is to alert clinical staff to the possibility of unusual illnesses presenting in a manner commonly associated with more familiar diseases or exposures.

Particular emphasis has been paid to those agents deemed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as those most likely to be used in the event of a terrorist attack. However there are other agents such as industrial chemicals, which could be used in a terrorist attack in addition to new emerging, or re-emerging inf​​​​​ections. 

The principles of responding to casualties exposed to hazardous chemicals, radiological or biological materials are generic, irrespective of the deliberate or accidental release of the agents.

Other resources

There are also a number of restricted documents – these are available to NHS public health professionals on the Scottish Health Protection Information Resource (SHPIR) website.

  • Go to SHPIR (login required)

The UK Health Security Agency (formerly PHE) published more recent guidance in 2018 for healthcare professionals on recognising and responding to CBRN incidents.


View current contact details for NHS board health protection teams.

Toxicological advice for healthcare professionals is available from National Poisons Information Service on 0344 892 0111 or at

Resource information

Health Protection Scotland
Publication type:
Reference materials