• U.S. captures head of ISIS chem weapons unit; targets ISIS chem weapons infrastructure

    U.S. Special Forces operating in Iraq captured the head ISIS chemical weapons unit. Sleiman Daud al-Afari, who worked for Saddam Hussenin’s now-disbanded Military Industrialization Authority where he specialized in chemical and biological weapons, was captured during a raid near the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar last month.American and Iraqi officials say that there are many indications that ISIS is working hard to develop chemical weapons.

  • ISIS used mustard gas in Iraq: UN watchdog

    A source at the UN chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said that in 2015 ISIS attacked Kurdish forces in Iraq with mustard gas. It was the first documented use of chemical weapons in the country since Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians in 1998.

  • Toxins found in fracking fluids and wastewater: Study

    In an analysis of more than 1,000 chemicals in fluids used in and created by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), researchers found that many of the substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, and the majority had undetermined toxicity due to insufficient information. The researchers say that further exposure and epidemiological studies are urgently needed to evaluate potential threats to human health from chemicals found in fracking fluids and wastewater created by fracking.

  • Gov. Brown declares emergency in wake of massive L.A. natural gas leak

    California governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday declared an emergency in a Los Angeles neighborhood where a natural gas well has been spewing record amounts of stinking, global-warming methane gas. Energy experts said the breach at the natural gas storage reservoir, and the subsequent, ongoing release, are the largest known occurrence of its kind.

  • Transforming deadly chemicals into harmless dirt

    Destroying bulk stores of chemical warfare agents is a challenge for the U.S. and international community. Current methods of eradication, such as incineration or hydrolysis, are not fully agnostic, require significant amounts of water and create hazardous waste that requires further processing. DARPA’s Agnostic Compact Demilitarization of Chemical Agents (ACDC) program recently awarded two contracts to develop prototypes of a transportable disposal system able to convert dangerous chemicals into safe output, such as harmless soil, using minimal consumables and creating no hazardous waste.

  • Syria is continuing to use chemical weapons against its people: Diplomats

    Diplomats attending the annual meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, on Monday accused Syrian president Bashar al-Assad of continuing to use deadly gas munitions against his own people, although Syria committed to dismantle and remove all of its stocks of chemical weapons. U.S. and EU representatives charged that the regime may still has in its possession large quantities of chemical armaments like sulfur mustard and sarin, which it has concealed from international inspectors.

  • Smart sensor detects single molecule in chemical compounds

    Researchers have developed a smart sensor that can detect single molecules in chemical and biological compounds — a highly valued function in medicine, security, and defense. The researcher used a chemical and biochemical sensing technique called surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), which is used to understand more about the make-up of materials.

  • Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) technology for on-site detection

    Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) technology currently is applied using chemical analysis of materials, such as scanning at airports to identify what materials may be inside of glass vials. Researchers want to expand SERS for use in biological applications that could employ antibodies for purposes such as identifying viruses, water toxins, or pathogens in food samples. The researchers work on developing a small hand-held device that allows users to take a sample, put it in a glass vial and insert into the instrument for rapid identification.

  • Steam thermography may compete with luminol in solving crimes

    Luminol gets trotted out pretty frequently on TV crime shows, but a new technique might someday compete with the storied forensics tool as a police procedural plot device and, perhaps more importantly, as a means of solving real crimes. Researchers developed what they term “steam thermography,” which has the ability to detect blood spots in all kinds of spots — even in spots where luminol cannot.

  • Clothing that guards against chemical warfare agents

    Recent reports of chemical weapons attacks in the Middle East underscore the need for new ways to guard against their toxic effects. Scientists report that a new hydrogel coating that neutralizes both mustard gas and nerve agent VX. It could someday be applied to materials such as clothing and paint.

  • UN inquiry to determine who is responsible for chemical attacks in Syria

    Russia has withdrawn its objections to a UN investigation into identifying the culprits responsible for chemical attacks in Syria, allowing a probe to begin, UN diplomats said Thursday. For the last two years, Russia had insisted that a series of UN investigative teams sent to Syria would be limited to finding out whether or not chemical weapons had been used, but would be barred from identifying who was responsible for launching them.

  • Inspired by butterfly wings, scientists design a new gas sensor

    The unique properties found in the stunning iridescent wings of a tropical blue butterfly could hold the key to developing new highly selective gas detection sensors. The ground-breaking findings could help inspire new designs for sensors that could be used in a range of sectors, including medical diagnostics, industry, and the military. At present, reliable and cost-effective sensors for detection of small but meaningful gas leaks in a multitude of industrial processes remain an unmet environmental, health, and safety goal.

  • Toxic chemical found in fish-eating in birds outside of a Georgia’s Superfund site

    Researchers have found that a contaminated mixture called Aroclor 1268 has spread beyond a former chemical plant, now a Superfund site, near Brunswick, Georgia. Aroclor 1268 is composed of a suite of toxic chemical compounds known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The chemical was used to produce insulation materials at the Linden Chemical Plant at the Turtle Estuary near Brunswick until 1994.

  • Worries grow about rain-induced toxic chemical clouds from destroyed Chinese facility

    China’s state-run news agency has reported that the warehouse where last Wednesday’s powerful explosions in the Chinese city of Tianjin originated, received a license to handle hazardous chemicals only two months before the disaster. The official count now stands at 114 dead, 700 injured, and 53 missing. Most of the dead, injured, and missing are firefighters. Officials said that more than forty different types of chemicals have now been discovered at the blast site, including 700 tons of sodium cyanide, 800 tons of ammonium nitrate, and 500 tons of potassium nitrate. Chemical engineers said that the heavy rains which began to fall on the city Monday night set off more chemical reactions, creating clouds of toxic gas which would waft over residential areas – some of them less than a mile from the destroyed chemical facility – and hobble rescue and recovery work.

  • Sodium cyanide stored at explosion site pollutes city’s water

    The Chinese government says that 114 people, most of them firefighters, have been killed and ninety-five still missing after first responders were sent to the Tianjin chemical plant to fight large fires which broke out after a powerful explosion at the plant last Wednesday. Chinese officials say they found 700 tons of sodium cyanide at two locations at the site. Chinese public health officials said on Monday that the health risks of last week’s explosion are spreading, reporting that alarming levels of sodium cyanide have been found at wastewater monitoring stations in and around the city of Tianjin.