• 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.

  • Reversal: UN now calls for identifying perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria

    The UN Security Council on Friday has unanimously adopted a resolution calling for identifying those using chlorine and other chemical weapons in attacks in Syria. Friday’s resolution is a reversal of Russia’s position, and another indication that Russia is distancing itself from Assad. In 2013, when the Security Council passed the resolution authorizing the removal of chemical weapons from Syria, Russia – which, with Iran, is Assad’s main supporter – conditioned its support for the resolution on adding to it a clause which would explicitly prohibit Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) or the UN from determining who is responsible for chemical attacks in Syria, if such attacks continue. The Friday resolution fills a gap in attributing blame for chemical weapons attacks, allowing for the perpetrators of such attacks to be brought to justice.

  • U.K. conducted chemical weapons experiments on “unconsenting participants”

    In 1963 the U.K. Ministry of Defense’s Porton Down military science center carried out the first of a series of tests to release zinc cadmium sulphide in the atmosphere over Norwich. It was one of many examples of secret experiments conducted in the name of military research during the 1950s and 1960s, now chronicled for the first time in a new book. The book provides a comprehensive overview of state military scientific research on chemical and biological weapons by Britain, the United States, and Canada since the First World War. Between 1946 and 1976, “Britain was turned into a large-scale open-air laboratory; her people into an army of unconsenting participants,” the author writes.

  • New guidance on estimating area affected by a chlorine release issued

    Arlington, Virginia-based Chlorine Institute (CI) has issued a new version of Pamphlet 74 - Guidance On Estimating the Area Affected By A Chlorine Release. The new version, Edition 6, dated June 2015, reflects CI’s collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Security Analysis Center and incorporates information obtained from the DHS “Jack Rabbit I” chlorine release field tests.  

  • More evidence emerges of ISIS’s use of chemical weapons

    A joint investigation by two independent organizations has found that ISIS has begun to use weapons filled with chemicals against Kurdish forces and civilians in both Iraq and Syria. ISIS is notorious for its skill in creating and adapting weapons and experts are concerned with the group’s access to chemical agents and its experiments with and the use of these agents as weapons.