• DetectionHelping First Responders Identify Unknown Chemicals

    First responders arrive first on the scene when disaster strikes or terrorists attack. They often encounter dangerous conditions like smoke and chemicals. To best help in situations like these, they need to know the chemical substances present onsite. This is where analytical field instruments such as Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometers (GC/MS) come into play. But to acquire such technology, first responders first need to know which GC/MSs suit both their needs and their budgets.

  • WMD detectionEpigenetic Tool for Detecting Exposure to WMD

    With a $38.8 million award from DARPA, researchers are working on developing a field-deployable, point-of-care device that will determine in 30 minutes or less whether a person has been exposed to weapons of mass destruction or their precursors. The device will be capable of detecting the health effects of a number of substances associated with weapons of mass destruction, including biological agents, radiation, chemicals and explosives. The detection devices will scan potential exposure victims for epigenetic changes, that is, chemical modifications that affect genes, altering their expression while leaving the genetic code intact.

  • Perspective: WMD detectionTrump Administration Has Gutted Programs Aimed at Detecting Weapons of Mass Destruction

    The Trump administration has quietly dismantled or cut back multiple programs that were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to help detect and prevent terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction, a Times investigation has found. The retreat has taken place over the last two years at the Department of Homeland Security, which has primary domestic responsibility for helping authorities identify and block potential chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. A Los Angeles Times investigation found that the changes, not previously reported, were made without rigorous review of potential security vulnerabilities, the Times found, undermining government-wide efforts aimed at countering terrorist attacks involving unconventional weapons, known as weapons of mass destruction.

  • WMD exposureNew technology to measures WMD threat exposures

    Researchers are looking to find molecular signatures in blood that identify previous exposures and time of exposure to materials that could be associated with weapons of mass destruction (including infectious agents, chemicals, and radiation). The epigenome is biology’s record keeper, and Epigenetic technology will provide a new tool in the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

  • Infrastructure protectionFinding and fixing natural gas leaks quickly, economically

    From production to consumption, natural gas leaks claim lives, damage the climate and waste money. Researchers are working on better ways to find and fix gas leaks quickly and inexpensively from one end of the system to the other.

  • Chemical detectionDARPA tests advanced chemical sensors

    DARPA’s SIGMA program, which began in 2014, has demonstrated a city-scale capability for detecting radiological and nuclear threats that is now being operationally deployed. DARPA is building off this work with the SIGMA+ initiative that is focused on providing city- to region-scale detection capabilities across the full chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threat space.

  • Oil spillsExamining the safety of using dispersants in oil spill clean ups

    A new study of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill recovery efforts makes a series of recommendations to federal agencies on how to safely clean up after spills.

  • DetectorsNew sensors can sense and sort troublesome gases

    From astronauts and submariners to miners and rescue workers, people who operate in small, enclosed spaces need good air quality to work safely and effectively. Newly developed electronic sensors can simultaneously detect at least three critical parameters that are important to monitor to ensure human comfort and safety.

  • EscapesDeveloping concepts for escape respirator

    DHS S&T announced the Escape Respirator Challenge, a $250,000 prize competition that seeks new concepts for an escape respirator solution. This challenge invites the innovation community to submit relevant, useable, effective, and feasible concepts that protects the user against aerosolized chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) hazards and provides oxygen.

  • Oil spillsInexpensive super-absorbent material offers solution for ocean oil spills

    A super-absorbent material developed by Penn State scientists could dramatically reduce the environmental impact of oil spills on oceans and allow recovered oil to be refined normally. The synthetic material, called i-Petrogel, absorbs more than 40 times its weight in crude oil, and effectively stops the oil from spreading after a spill, according to the researchers.

  • The Russia connectionBritish spy chief warns Russia against covert activity after nerve-agent attack

    The head of Britain’s foreign intelligence service has warned the Kremlin not to underestimate the West following a nerve-agent attack on a retired double agent in England that he attributed to covert Russian activity. Alex Younger, head of the Secret Intelligence Service known as MI6, made the remarks on December 3 in a rare public speech – saying that Russia is in a state of “perpetual confrontation” with the West.

  • Chemical warfareQuick, precise method for detecting chemical warfare agents

    Sarin is a man-made nerve agent that can spread as a gas or liquid. According to the Center for Disease control, exposure to large doses will over-stimulate glands and muscles, and can lead to loss of consciousness or respiratory failure. Even small doses can cause a long list of distressing and dangerous symptoms. “Low-level nerve agent exposure leads to ambiguous signs and symptoms that cannot be easily discriminated from other conditions, which may result in a delay in treatment and permanent damage,” says an expert. “If trace amounts can be detected quickly, you can prevent permanent damage to human health.”

  • Chemical weaponsPreventing chemical weapons as sciences advance and converge

    Revolutionary advances in science and technology are threatening the ability of the Chemical Weapons Convention to prevent the development, possession and potential use of chemical weapons. Scientists warn of this increased chemical weapons risk, which is the result of rapid scientific change. Alarming examples of the dangers from chemical weapons have been seen recently in the use of industrial chemicals and the nerve agent sarin against civilians in Syria, and in the targeted assassination operations using VX nerve agent in Malaysia and novichok nerve agent in the U.K.

  • Skripal caseSalisbury poisoning suspect named as Russian colonel

    The real identity of one of the two Russians blamed by Britain for the Salisbury nerve-agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal is Anatoly Chepiga, the investigative website Bellingcat says, adding that he was a decorated Russian colonel. Earlier this month, British prosecutors charged two Russians — identified as Ruslan Boshirov and Aleksandr Petrov — with attempted murder for carrying out the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the Novichok nerve toxin in the southern English city of Salisbury earlier this year. The prosecutors said the two were undercover officers for Russian military intelligence, the GRU.

  • Chemical weaponsUN confirms 33 chemical attacks, constituting war crimes, by Syrian regime since 2013

    The United Nations reported Wednesday that the Assad regime in Syria continues to use chemical weapons against civilian targets, including three chlorine gas attacks on a rebel-held Damascus suburb and on Idlib province this year that constitute war crimes.