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Technological and Biological Hazard Preparedness copy

Emergencies due to technological and biological hazards / CBRN are part of the humanitarian scope for a long time. These hazards have continuously left an impact on lives and livelihoods. They have emerged over the years, triggered by technological advances as well as the development of critical infrastructure made to increase productivity and access to resources.

With the nuclear age and more use of chemicals in industry and agriculture, numerous emergencies involving ionizing radiation and hazardous chemicals have occurred since the mid of the last century. In the previous 50 years, more 8,444 technological hazards have happened due to industrial, transportation, or miscellaneous accidents globally. The frequency of climate-related disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and others also increases the risks in industrial areas and human settlements in the surroundings (the NATECH events).

With a multi-hazard approach, The IFRC has designed a technological and biological global preparedness program to guide National Societies on how to enhance their readiness to respond to these disasters.

Industrialization is moving forward hastily due to technological advances. At the same time, the population is growing in urban and rural areas close to factory fields, which becomes a risk of possible technological hazards that affects their lives.

Key actions
Knowledge creation and sharing
  • Increase knowledge and enhance readiness and resilience.

  • Provide guidance and support alignment of operational procedures.

  • Raise awareness in communities of potential humanitarian consequences from technological and biological hazards.

Capacity building / technical assistance
  • Provide Technological & Biological hazard preparedness training in person or virtual on equipment use, technical safety procedures, drill exercises.

  • Support the proper use of personal protective equipment, deco units/shelters, and detection equipment.

  • Peer to peer support.

Policy / Advocacy / Outreach
  • Enhance humanitarian response following extreme events.

  • Pursue greater international cooperation for technological and biological emergency planning, preparedness, and response.

  • Advocate for stronger humanitarian considerations within safety standards and frameworks in international networks.

Multi-hazard approach

(DRAFT) The Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies addresses Technological and Biological Hazards through a multi-hazard approach.

  • Technological Hazards like industrial spills, transport accidents, factory explosions are a subset of man-made hazards.
  • Natural Hazards (NATECH) are climate-related hazards that impact industrial areas, building structures, and could cause toxic waste.
  • Biological Hazards include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, or parts thereof.

Chemical poisoning that may include thermal, asphyxiate, and physical injury risks, due to transportation or misused hazardous materials.


Public health emergencies, such as epidemics and contaminated drinking water and food. Contamination can occur through natural exposure to the agent, accidental release of microorganisms.


Any situation which gives rise to an abnormal or unexpected radiation hazard. An emergency can arise because of:

  1. A loss of shielding, resulting in high radiation levels
  2. A loss of containment, resulting in a release of activity
  3. An uncontrolled criticality.

An emergency that could be declared if there is an accident or an intentional release (or threat of intentional release) of potentially harmful radioactive materials. In either situation, exposure to radiation can cause health risks.

Environmental emergencies

Sudden commercial or industrial failures causing accidents of varying scopes, such as spills or multiple fires affecting the environment and livelihoods massively.

NATECH events

Industrial facilities and critical infrastructure are vulnerable to the impact of natural and climate-related hazards which can trigger so-called Natech (Natural Hazard Triggering Technological Disasters) accidents and the release of toxic substances, fires, and explosions, potentially resulting in health effects, environmental pollution, and economic losses.


The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has addressed the humanitarian impact of technological hazards already during the last century. Based on the International conference resolutions in 1986 and 1995, and a decision in 2012 by National Societies and IFRC at a Partnership meeting in Tokyo, Japan, to strengthen our efforts and expertise regarding technological hazards, a global preparedness program started in 2013 by the IFRC with the support of several National Societies.

This global Technological & biological hazard / CBRN preparedness program is aiming to capture existing functional capacities within National societies and build a global knowledge network to enhance and create capacities to better prepare for and respond to such kinds of events.

The Public Awareness and Public Education Messages developed by the IFRC provide consistency in action through standardized messaging in technological hazard preparedness.

Resources & Reports
Technological Hazards Preparedness Messages
Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Guidelines
Review: Chernobyl Humanitarian Assistance
Guideline: Man-made / Technological Hazards
600,000 kilometres for Chernobyl
In a dying village, hope in Ludmila’s home
Shopping and a life-saving screening