Chemical | Homeland Security Newswire

  • Why ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention is in Israel’s best interest

    When the time came to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first major use of chemical weapons, it seemed there was at last a real chance of ridding the world of all chemical weapons in the very near future. Almost all countries had already joined the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which commits countries to the supervised destruction of all stockpiles of chemical weapons – with only two states as yet unwilling to sign: North Korea and Egypt. But there’s another exception: Israel, which has signed the convention but is refusing to ratify it. Chemical weapons have no place in a civilized society. They have little to no use as a tactical deterrent, and their effects are indiscriminate and appalling. We have a unique opportunity to rid the world of this scourge, and we’re so close to doing so. It’s high time Israel joined the rest of the world.

  • FBI’s WMD Directorate marks its first decade

    If you can imagine a disaster involving explosives or the release of nuclear, biological, chemical, or radioactive material, there is a pretty good chance a group of subject-matter experts within the FBI has built an elaborate scenario around it and tested how well emergency responders face up to it. It is the main jobs of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Directorate — to imagine worst-case scenarios and then devise ways to prevent and prepare for them. The Directorate was created ten years ago, on 26 July 2006.

  • Syria chlorine attack claims: what this chemical is and how it became a weapon

    New claims that the Syrian government has dropped barrel bombs full of chlorine on a suburb of Aleppo are the latest in a series of allegations of chemical weapon use. Although the Syrian government denies using chemical weapons, a recent UN-led enquiry found it had used chlorine on at least two occasions. The first gas attack using chlorine was launched on 22 April 1915 in the trenches on the Western front, near Ypres. Gas masks were developed to protect against chlorine attacks and other chemical warfare agents were developed. But chlorine remains the simplest chemical weapon and reappeared on the battlefield during the Iraq War and allegedly now in Syria. In the Second World War, both sides of the conflict knew that the other side had weaponized chlorine and refrained from using it. Today in Syria, it sadly appears this may not have been the case.

  • Libya’s remaining chemical weapons materials removed

    The director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, announced a milestone in the operation to verifiably eliminate Libya’s remaining chemical weapons stocks by confirming that the chemicals have been successfully removed from Libya on 27 August 2016.

  • Watchdog: Evidence suggests Assad kept chemical weapons program in violation of 2013 deal

    After launching a lethal sarin gas attack in August 20013 — which killed 1,400 Sunni civilians in a Damascus suburb — the Assad regime agreed to get rid of its nerve agents under the supervision of OPWC, the UN chemical weapons watchdog. In summer 2014 OPCW announced that Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile had been removed – but in a classified report submitted Wednesday to the Security Council, OPWC says that Syria has violated the 2013w agreement by keeping some of its chemical weapons program, and by continuing to use chemical weapons in attacks against civilians.

  • “Liquid fingerprinting” technique identifies unknown liquids instantly

    A new company — Validere — will commercialize sensing technology invented at Harvard University that can perform instant, in-field characterization of the chemical make-up and material properties of unknown liquids. Validere aims to develop the licensed technology, called Watermark Ink (W-INK), into a pocket-sized device that could be used by first responders to quickly identify chemical spills, or by officials to verify the fuel grade of gasoline right at the pump.

  • “Second skin” uniform protects soldiers from biological, chemical agents in the field

    In work that aims to protect soldiers from biological and chemical threats, scientists have created a material that is highly breathable yet protective from biological agents. This material is the first key component of futuristic smart uniforms that also will respond to and protect from environmental chemical hazards.

  • Block MEMS awarded $9.8M contract for standoff detection of chemical threats

    Block MEMS, a developer of Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL)-based infrared detection systems, has been awarded a $9.8 million contract from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop a system that can detect trace quantities of chemicals at standoff distances of at least 100 ft.

  • New method helps identify chemical warfare agents

    Chemical warfare agents are powerful noxious chemicals that have been used as weapons of mass destruction. Finding trace amounts of a chemical warfare agent in a sample can be challenging, especially if the agent and the liquid it is in are both water-repellant, which is often the case. A new method for extracting, enriching, and identifying chemical warfare agents from oils and other organic liquids could help government officials and homeland security protect civilians more effectively from their deadly effects. The method uses nanoparticles to capture the chemicals.

  • Electronic nose detects pesticides, nerve gas

    Detecting pesticides and nerve gas in very low concentrations? An international team of researchers has made it possible. The researchers have built a very sensitive electronic nose with metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). The chemical sensor can easily be integrated into existing electronic devices.

  • New proposal seeks to focus on the fix for lead poisoning

    The crisis of lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan, continues to make headlines — but it is just the most prominent example of an “ongoing and needless tragedy of childhood lead poisoning,” says a leading expert on childhood lead poisoning prevention. The “debacle” in Flint should spur urgently needed but long-delayed action to address the continuing crisis of lead poisoning in the United States and around the world.

  • France to employ anti-drone technology to protect Euro 2016 soccer games

    France will employ anti-drone technology to interfere with and take control of any flying machines breaching strict no-fly zones over stadiums where the games of the 2016 European Soccer Championship will be played. The technology is part of broad and unprecedented security measures taken to secure Europe’s biggest sports event. French security agencies have been training for some time for the possibility of drones used to disperse chemical agents over crowds.

  • Assad's forces use sarin gas for first time since 2013 killing of 1,400 civilians

    The Assad regime has used sarin gas for the first time since 2013, dropping a sarin-filled bombs on ISIS fighters outside Damascus, a senior Israeli official has said. On 21 August 2013 the Syrian military used sarin and VX to kill 1,400 Sunni civilians in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus. In the wake of the attack, Russia and the United States pressured Assad to give up his chemical weapons arsenal and dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons manufacturing capabilities. Western intelligence services say that Assad likely disposed of his mustard and VX, in accordance with the deal, but that he chose to keep the sarin, the most lethal agent at his disposal.

  • ISIS manufacturing chemical weapons: UN watchdog

    A team of investigators at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that there is “worrying” evidence ISIS is making its own chemical weapons. An OPCW team of investigators said they had found evidence of the use of homemade sulphur mustard in attacks in Syria and Iraq.

  • New drug to combat the effects of nerve agents

    Sarin is a colorless, odorless liquid fatal even at very low concentrations. Serious sarin poisoning causes visual disturbance, vomiting, breathing difficulties and, finally, death. A ground-breaking study describes the development of a new drug which counteracts the effects of sarin gas.