Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chemical War Agents – A New Way of Decontamination

On March 20, 1995, 7:00-8:10 am – during the rush hour at the Tokyo subway, in five well planned acts of terror, members of the Aum Shinrikyo in Japan released sarin gas on several lines of the Tokyo Metro, killing about a dozen people, severely Sarin Gas Attackinjuring fifty and causing vision problems for nearly a thousand other victims. The incident remains, the most serious attack to occur in Japan since the end of the Second World War.

The incident involving a poisonous laboratory chemical starkly revealed how annihilating an attack by chemical warfare agents can be, and given the frequency of the terror attacks these days, the possibility of a terrorist attack by means of toxic laboratory chemical supplies can't be ruled out.

With research by their side, the scientists in Texas, California, and Maryland, via the American Chemical Society, recently claimed to have developed sophisticated "wipes" that could be used to clear up people and equipment exposed to a range of harmful military and industrial and laboratory chemicals.

The Next Generation Wipes

The high-tech wipes are being considered a big leap toward a universal personal decontamination system for nearly that could clear up just about any toxic or hazardous chemical, and save countless lives. For instance, "mustard" is one of the deadliest blister agents around. It is known to cause severe, delayed burns to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, damages cells within minutes of contact and large exposures to the chemical may be fatal. However, the new wipes are effective against it as well.

Another distinction about the new wipe is that unlike the earlier generation of decontaminating agents were either powders or liquids, this one is fabric-based. And hence it doesn't carry the disadvantages of its predecessors. For example the powders, like activated carbon, can pollute the air and cause lungs damage, the liquids on the other hand are effective against only a handful of harmful agents as many laboratory chemical manufacturers would vouch for , and that they can also damage electronic equipment.

Comprising a layer of activated carbon pressed between layers of absorbent fibers, they've been shown to work better than particulate carbon and a just as good as the military decontamination kit.

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