• Chem/bio weaponsShark antibodies for chemical, biological threat detection, treatment

    New research shows that shark antibodies offer new alternatives to chemical and biological threat detection and treatment tools. In an era of Department of Defense belt-tightening, the goal is to find more innovative, cost-effective approaches to protecting our warfighters.

  • Chemical weaponsISIL uses toxic chemicals in its defense of Mosul

    In the run up to the U.S.-led coalition campaign to liberate Mosul, U.S. officials warned that ISIS would likely use chemical weapons to slow down the progress of coalition forces and terrorize the residents. Last Thursday ISIS took the first step in its chemical strategy by setting ablaze the Mishraq Chemical plant and sulphur mine, located thirty km south of Mosul. The toxic cloud includes lethal sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. When combined with residue from burning oil wells, it is deadly for people caught in the open or without gas masks. Military experts say health effects from the toxic fumes from oil and sulphur will likely subside in about eighteen months, but the toxic clouds could harm much of the plant and animal life in the area and make it difficult for local farmers to return to their fields until then.

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  • Chemical weaponsAssad regime used chemical weapons: UN

    The White House on Saturday sharply condemned the use of chemical weapons by the government of Bashar al-Assad, after an international inquiry found that Syrian government forces used toxic gas in spring 2015 in attacks on two rebel-held towns. The fourth report from the 13-month-long inquiry by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the UN chemical weapons watchdog, blamed Syrian government forces for a toxic gas attack in Qmenas in Idlib governorate on 16 March 2015.

  • Nuclear materialsSuspension of U.S.-Russia plutonium disposal agreement a setback: Expert

    Earlier this week the lower house of the Russian parliament approved President Vladimir Putin’s decree on suspending the U.S.-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA), which requires each nation to dispose of thirty-four metric tons of plutonium from its dismantled nuclear weapons and military stockpiles. Russia has claimed that the United States is violating the agreement by changing its disposition method from irradiating the plutonium as mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for commercial nuclear reactors to a process called dilute and dispose, but a nuclear expert says that the United States has not violated the terms of the PMDA by proposing that it change its plutonium disposition approach.

  • Radiation risksDeveloping tests for radiation absorbed in nuclear emergency

    In a large-scale nuclear or radiological emergency, such as a nuclear detonation, hundreds of thousands of people may need medical care for injuries or illness caused by high doses of radiation. To help save as many people as possible and better prepare the nation for the health impacts of such catastrophic emergencies, HHS will sponsor late-stage development of two tests, known as biodosimetry tests, which can determine how much radiation a person’s body has absorbed.

  • Radiation risksHHS bolsters U.S. health preparedness for radiological threats

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) says that as a part of its mission to help protect Americans’ health following even the most unthinkable of disasters, it is purchasing two medical products to treat injuries to bone marrow in victims of radiological or nuclear incidents. Bone marrow is essential to producing blood.

  • Nuclear wasteBacteria can help make underground nuclear waste repositories safer

    It takes about two hundred thousand years for the radioactivity of spent nuclear fuel to revert to the levels of naturally occurring uranium. As a result, most research into the long-term safety of nuclear waste disposal focuses on processes that tick to a slow geological clock: the mechanics of the rock layers that make up the storage site or the robustness of the protective barriers in place that are engineered to contain the radiation. However, all these studies neglect one key factor: biology. Naturally occurring bacteria could consume pent-up hydrogen gas in nuclear waste repositories to prevent radioactive leaks.

  • Nuclear terrorismTerrorism fallout shelters: Is it time to resurrect nuclear civil defense?

    By Timothy J. Jorgensen

    Fifty-five years ago, on 6 October 1961, President John F. Kennedy advised Americans to build an underground protective room, commonly known as a “fallout shelter,” in their homes. The American people heeded his advice and began an enormous grassroots effort to construct fallout shelters in every private residence and public building. Today, smaller nations and terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, are seeking nuclear weapons. Some nations, like North Korea, already have them. Others may be a decade away. It is not unreasonable to believe that the use of a single nuclear weapon by a rogue nation or a terrorist group now poses a more likely scenario for a nuclear confrontation than a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. We need a strategy to protect ourselves against these adversaries, and right now we don’t have one, except screening cargo. If we don’t find a more effective strategy to thwart nuclear terrorism soon, we may be forced to go back to fallout shelters as our only protective option, whether we like it or not.

  • Nerve agentsA nerve agent antidote taken before a chemical weapons attack

    Nerve agents are molecular weapons that invade the body and sabotage part of the nervous system, causing horrific symptoms and sometimes death within minutes. Few antidotes exist, and those that do must be administered soon after an attack. Now, scientists an early-stage development of a potential treatment that soldiers or others could take before such agents are unleashed.

  • Water securityNew technology pinpoints water contamination sources

    When the local water management agency closes your favorite beach due to unhealthy water quality, how reliable are the tests they base their decisions on? As it turns out, those tests, as well as the standards behind them, have not been updated in decades. Now scientists have developed a highly accurate, DNA-based method to detect and distinguish sources of microbial contamination in water.

  • Nuclear weaponsRussia’s ultimatum to US: Reduce commitment to NATO, lift sanctions – or nuclear deal is off

    The Kremlin, in an unprecedented series of ultimatums on Monday, said Russia would suspend an agreement it had signed with the United States to turn weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel unless the United States rescinds the sanctions imposed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea – and also cuts its military commitments to NATO. The Kremlin said that both the economic sanctions and the U.S. military commitments to its NATO allies are “unfriendly” acts to ward Russia.

  • Chemical spillsFlorida tightens public notification rules for pollution incidents

    Last week Governor Rick Scott instructed Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Jon Steverson to issue an emergency rule that establishes new requirements for public notification of pollution incidents. The rule is to take effect immediately. Scott issued the instruction following the sewage spill in Pinellas County and the sinkhole at Mosaic’s New Wales facility.

  • Chemical spillsMassive 2014 West Virginia chemical spill was preventable: CSB

    The Chemical Safety Board’s (CSB) final report into the massive 2014 release by Freedom Industries of chemicals into the primary source of drinking water of Charleston, West Virginia, concludes that Freedom Industries failed to inspect or repair corroding tanks, and that as hazardous chemicals flowed into the Elk River, the water company and local authorities were unable effectively to communicate the looming risks to hundreds of thousands of affected residents, who were left without clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

  • EncryptionNIST patented single-photon detector for potential encryption, sensing apps

    Individual photons of light now can be detected far more efficiently using a device patented by a team including NIST, whose scientists have overcome longstanding limitations with one of the most commonly used type of single-photon detectors. Their invention could allow higher rates of transmission of encrypted electronic information and improved detection of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

  • Chemical weaponsHHS sponsors inhaled chlorine antidote for chemical terrorism preparedness

    Chlorine gas is a widely available industrial chemical with catastrophic consequences in industrial accidents. chlorine gas has been used as a weapon, for the first time in the First World War  and repeatedly in the recent Syrian civil war. Currently, there is no specific antidote for lung injuries caused by chlorine exposure, and treatment has been limited supportive care. The first potential antidote to treat the life-threatening effects of chlorine inhalation, a potential terrorism threat, will advance in development under a contract between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and Radikal Therapeutics, Inc. of Beverly, Massachusetts.