• A portable, shoe-box-sized chemical detector

    A chemical sensor prototype will be able to detect “single-fingerprint quantities” of substances from a distance of more than 100 feet away, and its developers are working to shrink it to the size of a shoebox. It could potentially be used to identify traces of drugs and explosives, as well as speeding the analysis of certain medical samples. A portable infrared chemical sensor could be mounted on a drone or carried by users such as doctors, police, border officials and soldiers.

  • DHS establishes the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office

    Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen last week announced the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office. DHS says that the CWMD Office will elevate and streamline DHS efforts to prevent terrorists and other national security threat actors from using harmful agents, such as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear material and devices to harm Americans and U.S. interests.

  • Better gas mask filters

    In research that could lead to better gas mask filters, scientists have been putting the X-ray spotlight on composite materials in respirators used by the military, police, and first responders, and the results have been encouraging. What they are learning not only provides reassuring news about the effectiveness of current filters in protecting people from lethal compounds such as VX and sarin, but they also provide fundamental information that could lead to more advanced gas masks as well as protective gear for civilian applications.

  • Russia vetoes UN chemical weapons investigation in Syria

    In an effort to protect the Assad regime from more damaging revelations about the regime’s use of chemical weapons, Russia, on Thursday and Friday, vetoed two resolutions to extend the mandate of Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), set up by the UN to investigate the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. JIM’s mandate expired on Friday.

  • Chemical detection sensors at the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub

    In New York, a new magnificent architectural wonder in white, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, also known as the Oculus, attracts tens of thousands of commuters and visitors every day. The Hub connects two subway systems and provides access to multiple buildings that make up the World Trade Center. However, even the most beautiful and useful places are not immune to danger from terrorist chemical attacks. DHS S&T entered into an agreement this spring with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to begin the design, establishment, operation, and maintenance of a chemical detection testbed for identifying hazardous gases.

  • Assad regime behind April 2017 sarin attack on Sunni civilians: UN

    A new report, released Thursday by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the UN chemical weapons watchdog, has found that the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were behind the deadly chemical weapons attack which killed more than ninety people in the village of Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017. The Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against Sunni civilian triggered a U.S. retaliation – fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise-missiles launched against the airbase from which the planes carrying the chemicals took off for the mission.

  • Russia blocks extension of UN’s mandate to investigate Assad’s chemical weapons usage

    On Tuesday, Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution to extend the mandate of the institution investigating chemical weapon attacks in Syria. The Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), whose mandate expires next month, was established in 2015 to identify the perpetrators of chemical attacks. A decision on its renewal must be made by 17 November.

  • New early-warning intelligence system alerts civilians to impending chemical attacks

    Since 2011, the Assad regime has killed hundreds of Syrian, and injured thousands, through the use of chemical weapons. Chemical agents are different from explosive chemicals, which cause localized destruction through force. Sarin gas, for example, a nerve agent which has been used in many attacks in Syria, can diffuse into the atmosphere and spread for hundreds of miles. Researchers are working to develop an intelligence system for chemical plume trajectory tracking, which is critical for national safety against impending chemical threats.

  • About 2.1 million Americans using wells high in arsenic

    About 44 million people in the U.S. get their drinking water from private wells. A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 2.1 million of them may be getting their drinking water from private wells considered to have high concentrations of arsenic, presumed to be from natural sources.

  • Fashionable detector-on-a-ring detects chemical, biological threats

    Wearable sensors are revolutionizing the tech-world, capable of tracking processes in the body, such as heart rates. They’re even becoming fashionable, with many of them sporting sleek, stylish designs. But wearable sensors also can have applications in detecting threats that are external to the body.

  • Finding confirms Assad’s systematic use of chemical weapons in Syria

    Samples from an attack in northern Syria on 30 March “prove the existence of sarin,” a deadly nerve agent, the director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on 4 October. The attack injured dozens, but it did not kill anybody. So why is this finding important? Because it confirms a pattern of sarin use by the government of Bashar al-Assad.

  • Israel destroys Syrian chemical weapons facility

    The Israeli air force Thursday morning attacked and destroyed a chemical arms plant in in Syria. Media reports say that Israel had destroyed the Scientific Studies and Researchers Center facility near the city of Masyaf in central Syria, where Syria has been working on developing of chemical weapons. This was the first time a high-level Israeli official has confirmed the scope of Israel’s attacks. Thursday’s attack was the first Israeli strike against a military facility in Syria since a cease-fire was reached in southern Syria in July (there have been, however, low-level border skirmishes between Israel and units of Assad army). Israel bitterly complained that the cease-fire agreement negotiated between the United States and Russia ignored acute Israeli security concerns.

  • Assad used chemical weapons more than two dozen times: UN

    The regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria has used chemical weapons on more than two dozen occasions since the outbreak of the civil war six years ago, including in April’s deadly attack on Khan Sheikhoun, a UN war crimes investigation revealed on Wednesday. In their 14th report since 2011, which includes the most conclusive findings to date from investigations into chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian civil war, the UN investigators said they had documented a total of 33 attacks.

  • UN: Two shipments of chemical weapons from North Korea to Syria were intercepted

    North Korea has been caught delivering shipments to a Syrian government agency in charge of the country’s chemical weapons program, according to a confidential UN report on North Korea’s sanctions violations.The United States and Russia brokered a deal in 2013 requiring Syria to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles.

  • Breakthrough in countering deadly VX

    First developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1950s, VX is one of the most toxic chemical weapon threats facing soldiers on the battlefield – and civilians as well, as the use by VX by Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad shows. DoD currently uses the Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL) for broad-spectrum agent elimination on unbroken skin, but a capability gap exists for treating chemical agent exposure to large affected areas or open wounds.