Technological and biological hazards

Technological hazards originate from technological or industrial conditions, dangerous procedures, infrastructure failure or human activity. Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) hazards are all types of technological hazards. They are commonly grouped together because they share lots of similarities, and many of the preparedness and response measures are the same or very similar. Learn more about these specific hazard types below.

Japan Red Cross Society volunteers dressed in protective equipment walk around Namie Town to help evacuate residents following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident

Emergency appeals

CBRN hazards

  • Chemical hazards are the unexpected release of a substance that is potentially harmful to humans, animals or the environment. They can happen due to technological accidents, the impact of natural hazards, conflict and terrorism.
  • Biological hazards are biological substances that threaten the health of humans and other living beings. They include infectious disease outbreaks, epidemics, animal plagues and infestations. Contamination can occur through natural exposure to the agent, accidental release of microorganisms, for example from a research facility, or by deliberate acts.
  • Nuclear hazards are hazards involving the accidental or intentional release of potentially harmful radioactive materials, for instance from nuclear power plants, research reactors or nuclear weapons. 
  • Radiological hazards are hazards involving all other sources of radiation—for instance, radiography machines, radioactive material used in industry and lost or stolen radioactive sources.

Do you know how to prepare for a technological hazard?

Do's and don'ts

  • Learn the risks in your area
  • Know warning systems and preparedness plans in your area
  • Know the symbols CBRN agents should be marked with
  • Do not enter areas exposed to CBRN hazards
  • Stay up to date with updates and instructions from the authorities
  • If you believe yourself to be contaminated, seek medical attention
  • Don't consume any food or water that might be contaminated
  • Learn how to properly decontaminate yourself and objects
  • Do not mix chemicals
  • Know your evacuation routes and safe shelters

Watch: How to prepare for chemical hazards and nuclear accidents