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Are You Prepared for a Refrigerant Leak

Are You Prepared for a Refrigerant Leak?

By | chemical spill clean up, Uncategorized

The chemical compound Refrigerant is used in several methods in the industrial manufacturing business – and is something commonly found in most environments including your home and businesses. This compound is typically found in either a fluid or gaseous state and it readily absorbs heat from the environment providing functions such as refrigeration or air conditioning when used in correlation with a compressor or evaporator.

The term “Refrigerant” is a brand name that incorporates a range of chemical elements referred to as ‘chlorofluorocarbons’ which includes the chemicals hydrogen, carbon, fluorine, and chlorine in its composition. The use of this chemical amalgam, however, has presented potential health risks and environment hazards for humans and even first-responders who are called upon to respond to accidents or leaks involving refrigerants. Refrigerant leaks or ammonia compressor leaks can be significantly hazardous as the characteristics of this type of leak can be extremely hard to distinguish upon contact.

We are going to discuss the potential dangers of a refrigerant leak to first responders and overall human exposure and how you can prepare in defense to a possible refrigerant leak.

How Do Refrigerators & A/C units WorkHow Do Refrigerators & A/C Units Work

Air conditioners, refrigerators, or heat pumps contain a sealed refrigerant system that contains this chemical in quantities that should never runout. An air conditioning system uses refrigerant inside the copper coils and as this chemical absorbs heat from indoor air it will begin a transition from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid. The air conditioning unit sends the refrigerant outside where the fan is blowing out hot air over the coils and exhausts it to the exterior. This process is used in both a/c units and refrigerators as they take heat energy out and transfer it from one place to another. During this process, however, incidents can occur such as leaks that can leave a potentially dangerous situation for first-responders and hazmat personnel.

How to Address a Catastrophic Refrigerant Leak

The actions that need to take place during a refrigerant leak, particularly a catastrophic leak, need to be executed swiftly and effectively. First-responders and hazmat personnel will conduct response actions when called upon the scene. The building or space affected by the refrigerant leak needs to be evacuated, no matter the severity of the chemical leak. The undistinguishable characteristics of the refrigerant leak such as the amount of refrigerant that has been released from the leak, the location of the leak, and who has been exposed to these hazardous chemicals are typically unknown to emergency responders and thus protocol must be taken to secure the safety of all occupants of the incident area. First-responders that respond to a potential refrigerant leak are required to wear Level A chemical protective clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to protect themselves during the performed rescue. Once the compressor is turned off and the leaking has subsided, the next course of action is neutralizing the area of the chemical leak.

Dangers of a Slow Refrigerant LeakDangers of a Slow Refrigerant Leak

Slow refrigerant leaks usually occur most of the time and are just not called upon to emergency responders, as people are unable to identify this present leak. First-responders will, however, receive calls about slow refrigerant leaks when the system is in a small, un-vented room that has been experiencing a leak for quite a long period of time. The result of this is that the leak pushes all the oxygen out of the room and can lead to an individual that is exposed to this small area to feel sick or pass out upon entry of this area. When a slow leak occurs like this overtime it can leave significant health risks to any individual exposed as the chemicals will continue to build-up inside the environment making the environment have a high level of chemicals in its air.

Emergency Response Procedures for a Slow Refrigerant Leak

After identification of a small refrigerant leak occurs, the individual will contact 9-1-1 and have emergency responders dispatched out into the area. When emergency responders enter the incident scene, they will take several factors into consideration before deciding how to respond to the refrigerant leak such as the chemical that is at play in the environment, the concentration of the chemical, and what the current situation is inside the contaminated area. It is important for most first-responders to carry a O2 sensor with them in situations like this where you are trying to identify the current condition of the environment before entering the area.

Once emergency responders are prepped with PPE and ready to enter the refrigerant leak area, they will need to evaluate the machinery that is causing the leak to determine what the best course of action is for the situation. Depending on the case itself, first-responders may ventilate the room to help maintain safe levels while keeping the machinery on – whether that be an a/c unit, refrigerator, etc. They may also decide to shut down the unit but that will vary based on the environment and the intrinsic cost that it could impact. Ultimately, it may be better to leave the system running but the emergency team will evaluate that as they gather information about the refrigerant leak.

Neutralizing the Chemical Threat

The refrigerant chemical that has been exposed in the environment will need to be removed from the area properly before occupants can re-enter the space. The process of removing the chemical properties included in a refrigerant can be difficult as the multiple chemistries may require different solutions for decontamination and neutralization. Instead of having to utilize multiple decontamination methods to completely remove the chemical contaminant in the environment (which can be a timely and inefficient process), first-responders should use an all-in-one decontamination solution that works against multiple chemicals.

FAST-ACT® is a proprietary formulation of non-toxic high-performance specialty materials effective at neutralizing a wide range of toxic chemicals with the added capability to destroy chemical warfare agents. The FAST-ACT formulation is non-flammable, non-corrosive, and significantly reduces both liquid and vapor hazards. Since the dry powder neutralizes threats upon contact, on-site incident management and clean up times are reduced. The chemical decontamination solution works quickly to significantly reduce hazards associated with common industrial chemicals. The broad range of utility makes FAST-ACT a valuable tool for a variety of environments that can help aid police, fire and other emergency responders to successfully and quickly decontaminate a hazardous chemical threat.

Signs of Refrigerant Poisoning

Refrigerant poisoning happens when someone is exposed to the chemicals ‘refrigerant’ that are used to cool appliances. Around these chemicals an individual will want to limit exposure, as exposure to these toxic chemicals can be severely hazardous to public health. Inhaling the fumes caused from a refrigerant leak can lead to several symptoms that will be easily to identify. These symptoms include the following:

  • Breathing problems
  • Fluid buildup in the lungs
  • Irritation of the eyes, ears, and throat
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cough
  • Chemical burn
  • Dizziness

Gaining information and awareness of the potential risks that refrigerant leaks pose to an environment is critical, particularly for first responders. When you are responding to an incident involving refrigerant chemicals preparing with protective equipment and decontamination solutions is necessary to properly respond and remediate the situation.

Emergency Response to Chemical Suicides

Emergency Response to Chemical Suicides

By | chemical attacks properness, chemical spill clean up, Uncategorized

Chemical Suicide Dangers to Emergency RespondersEmergency responders and HAZMAT teams are responding to a growing number of calls involving the reported new suicide trend that has been evolving in developed countries. Chemical suicides, also known as “detergent suicides” was first seen in Japan in 2007 and has since spread into other countries like the United States that is responding to a number of these incidents recently – with many emergency responders being called to the scene of chemical suicides.

“Detergent Suicides” was the named labeled to this incident by the media because it contains the use of household chemicals that are mixed together to produce a highly toxic concentration of hydrogen sulfide gas. The individuals involved in these incidents will remain in a closed area like a car, small room, or even a closet in the pursuit to receive instant effects both severe and/or deadly.

This trend developed online through the availability of instructions that were posted via the web. And has since grown into a devastating trend because of its assumed “painless” option for killing oneself. However, the inherent risks produced from this type of suicide can be dangerous not only to the victim but also to first responders and emergency personnel that enter the scene unprepared or unprotected for a chemical vapor/liquid release. What can emergency response personnel do to become more aware and prepared for chemical suicides?

Common Household Chemicals Used in Chemical Suicides

Chemical suicides involve the mixing of common household chemicals that create a deadly hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas. Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas that has a distinct, strong odor of rotten eggs or sulfur. When this chemical turns into a vapor in high concentrations it can be highly dangerous, particularly to first responders who show up to the scene without proper respiratory protection. This chemical is an olfactory nerve paralyzer that can rapidly fatigue one’s sense of smell, even in low volumes.

Hydrogen sulfide is constructed by mixing hydrochloric acid with a sulfur-constructed compound. Both of these chemicals are easy to obtain and can be purchased at a local grocery, hardware, or big box store. The chemical, when created, will turn into a gas called asphyxiant that is known to suffocate victims at the cellular level, rendering the cells in the body unable to use oxygen.

The effects and symptoms of hydrogen sulfide exposure will begin almost immediately after exposure. At high concentrations, this chemical can be very deadly as it is nearly impossible to detect with no odor to it at all – because olfactory nerves are completely stripped of function of smell. Some other symptoms that someone will experience from exposure includes the following:

  • Respiratory irritation
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Suffocation
  • Coma
  • and Death

Detergent Suicides Using Hydrogen Cyanide

Another toxic gas that is sometimes found to be used in detergent suicides is hydrogen cyanide. This type of chemical used in these incidents is less likely to be used because of the difficulty in acquiring the consumer products needed to construct this chemical. Hydrogen cyanide gas is created using an acid source and cyanide salts like sodium cyanide or potassium cyanide. This chemical is easily absorbed through contact with the mucus membranes, eyes, and skin. The odor produced from this chemical is correlated with the smell of bitter almonds and can be a very strong and overwhelming odor in the environment. Some of the key symptoms that a person will experience from exposure to hydrogen cyanide include the following:

  • Restlessness
  • Headache
  • Palpitation
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Increased Respiratory Rate
  • Unconsciousness
  • and Death

Signs of a Chemical Suicide

From 2008 to 2011 there were a total of 72 chemical suicides that were documented in the United States. About 80% of these incidents resulted in injuries to police officers, firefighters, emergency workers, and even civilians exposed to the gas. After the high level of injuries to emergency responders from chemical suicides, first responders are taking more care at crime scenes to detect signs of this type of incident in an effort to protect themselves. The signs that may be displayed at a chemical suicide crime scene can include these specific signs:

  • Small confined space (such as a car, small room, closet, etc.)
  • Tape or plastic covering vents and windows
  • Signs warning of toxic gas – usually placed by victim
  • A victim showing no sign of trauma
  • Empty cleaning supplies, pesticides, etc.
  • A strong odor similar to rotten eggs or burnt almonds
  • Suicide note

Chemical Suicide Response Procedures

The dangers presented to emergency responders upon contact with a chemical suicide is extremely high and due to the nature of the chemicals – as it is usually found as a vapor – can spread rapidly throughout the environment. When the confined space is opened this vapor can seep out and rapidly affect a large area and more important effect those exposed to the chemical vapor. The chemicals used in the chemical suicide can even continue to off-gas for an extended period of time way beyond when the incident took place.

If a chemical suicide is suspected, first responders should follow local response guidelines for securing the area and protecting the health of emergency responders. The procedures an emergency responder will take when coming across a chemical suicide crime scene includes the following steps.

Chemical Suicide Response ProceduresEvaluating the Crime Scene

During the first glimpse at the crime scene, look for alerts and signs of a chemical suicide. Determining the specific type of crime scene will help responders thoroughly prepare before stepping foot onto the crime scene.

Safely Secure the Environment

If the affected area contains people, it is important to immediately evacuate these individuals. Evaluate the chemical concentration, population size, the size of the affected area, and the wind speed. All of these factors can play a role in the containment and decontamination process.

Ventilate and Monitor Air in the Confined Space

When the area has been secured and analyzed extensively for potential hazards in the area, you will be able to start the ventilation process. The ventilation process should only be handled and conducted by trained and equipped first responders. Also, use air monitoring systems to detect chemical levels still present in the area to help you be aware of toxic chemicals still present.

Decontaminate Items & Surfaces in the Area

Surfaces and items can be contaminated easily by a chemical liquid/vapor release in an environment. Finding a decontamination solution that is able to quickly and effectively decontaminate both surfaces and air is essential for emergency responders. With FAST-ACT all your decontamination needs will be met, and it will help emergency responders act quickly to chemical suicides.

FAST-ACT is a proprietary formulation of non-toxic high-performance specialty materials effective at neutralizing a wide range of toxic chemicals with the added capability to destroy chemical warfare agents. FAST-ACT is offered in pressurized cylinders capable of addressing both liquid and vapor hazards, manually dispersed containers, kits for liquid hazard treatment, and mitts for equipment and small-scale decontamination. FAST-ACT can be safely applied to any liquid spill or vapor release enabling emergency responders to utilize one technology when faced with aa wide variety of known and unknown chemical hazards.

Mercury Cleanup & Response for HAZMAT

Mercury Cleanup & Response for HAZMAT

By | chemical spill clean up, Uncategorized

There are many chemicals that are used, tested, and sometimes even spilled in a day. If you do not work in a lab or in an environment where different chemicals are present that you may not consider the potential risks these chemicals can place on a group of people or even an area if they are mishandled or spilled accidentally. Every chemical has different risks and dangers – some more significant than others, and thus being prepared in the event that a dangerous chemical is released into the environment is a necessity for overall protection. Who do we turn to when chemicals are accidentally or purposefully released into the environment, and worse when a hazardous chemical like Mercury is the released chemical?

Mercury is a shiny, silvery liquid chemical that can cause some serious health problems. When liquid mercury vaporizes at room temperature it will cause an elevation of mercury levels in your indoor air. This chemical is quite hazardous when it becomes a vapor, as it is not irritating, and it has no odor, so people are not even aware that they are breathing it in their body. Even the smallest trace amount of mercury present in the environment can cause harm.

Mercury Spill ManagementWhat is Mercury Used for

The chemical mercury is present in more things than you may have known. It can be used to make thermometers, barometers, and other scientific instruments like blood pressure units and gas pressure regulators. One of the main industrial uses for mercury is in fluorescent lights, where a mercury vapor discharge produces ultraviolet light that then makes the tube coating fluorescent in visible lighting. Mercury is used in very small amounts with a pound of mercury being smaller than a golf ball.

Another popular use for mercury today is in dental fillings. All silver-colored fillings are dental amalgam fillings, and each of these fillings is approximately 50% mercury. Although there are many countries that have banned or limited the use of these fillings, there are many countries still using mercury fillings including the USA.

Is Mercury Dangerous

Mercury can potentially be a very dangerous chemical, especially when human exposure occurs. The liquid form of mercury is highly hazardous because as it vaporizes at room temperature the air will become filled with tiny, invisible mercury atoms that are both scentless and soluble in fats and oils.

When mercury vapor is inhaled into the body, it will easily become absorbed by the body, where it will first get into the lungs and then travel into the blood and brain. The poison released from this nerve chemical can cause sleep disorders, agitation, and paralysis. And scary enough, high dosage of exposure to this chemical can result in a neurological disorder called erethism mercurialis. According to Thomas Gebel, a toxicologist at Germany’s Federal Institute for Occupational Health and Safety in Dortmun, “There are historically documented cases that describe how people’s handwriting changed after being exposed to high levels of mercury”.

How to Clean Up Mercury Spill

When or if mercury spills inside an area you will want to be sure that the cleanup process is left to a professional or HAZMAT team to properly clean and decontaminate the chemical from the environment. There are several different steps you should take to clean up after a mercury spill. These steps include the following:

Step 1: Isolate and Ventilate

The first thing you will want to do is to close doors and block off the contaminated area from human exposure. Avoid walking through this area – the less time you spend within the area the less exposure you will have to this hazardous chemical. It’s also important to turn off your HVAC system after a spill occurs. Once the spill takes place it will vaporize into the air and if your air handling system is running it can spread this vapor throughout the whole environment, which is very dangerous. If you find that the mercury vapors are traveling quickly throughout the area you may decide to open windows to help ventilate the affected area.

Step 2: Be Ready to Respond

You never know when exactly mercury will become present in your environment but preparing for this potential situation can be extremely beneficial. To prepare you may consider using an air monitoring equipment to help to detect the presence of mercury fumes. Having safety supplies on hand like gloves, goggles, and other appropriate clothing during a mercury response is also crucial to protecting yourself from mercury exposure.

Step 3: Cleanup Process 

There are several important cleaning tips to be aware of before performing a mercury cleanup. Firstly, do not use a regular vacuum to remove the mercury – this will result in the spreading of the chemical throughout the environment. Use a vacuum rated for mercury only, during a response and cleanup process. Also, be on high alert for small droplets of mercury that could have ended up on the surface of the spill.

The process of containing and neutralizing the chemical spill is important, especially ensuring that all traces of the chemical are completely removed from the area. Applying a decontamination solution like FAST-ACT will help to contain the presence of mercury in the area. FAST-ACT is a chemical decontamination solution that is both rapidly effective and easy to use to contain a chemical spill or release. The technology is composed of a patented earth mineral formula that is highly reactive against a broad spectrum of chemical agents including CWAs (Chemical Warfare Agents). FAST-ACT can be applied to both liquid and vapor releases – and will help to absorb the mercury chemical from the environment.

Step 4: Contain the Chemical Release

After the mercury release occurs, it is important to remove any contaminated clothing from your body. Place clothing, shoes, and any other items that were tainted by the mercury in a marked and sealed bag.

Step 5: Decontaminate Skin

If your skin came into contact with the mercury you will want to use warm water and anti-dandruff shampoo to remove the chemical from your skin. Anti-dandruff shampoo contains at least 1 percent selenium sulfide which helps to decontaminate mercury.

Mercury Decontamination

Detecting CBRN Threats

Detecting CBRN Threats

By | chemical attack preparation, chemical spill clean up, terrorist attack preparation, Uncategorized

All around the world there is a need for emergency responders, whether in a small or large community or city, to have access to reliable and interoperable CBRNe detectors to protect not only property but also human life. “CBRNe” is the abbreviation that is commonly used to describe the malevolent use of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, & Explosive materials/weapons with the intention to cause mass casualties and destruction. Access to full CBRN protection can be extremely expensive to implement, but with the right CBRN mitigation tools and detection devices, prevention and protection of CBRN threats is achievable.

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear materials can possess hazardous effects, these effects can include the following in each category:

  • Chemical: Poisoning or injury caused by chemical substances. This can include military Chemical Warfare Agents (CWAs), harmful industrial chemicals, and household chemicals.
  • Biological: Illnesses that are caused by a deliberate release of a hazardous bacteria, virus, or even a biological toxin.
  • Radiological: Illness caused by exposure to harmful radioactive materials.
  • Nuclear: Extreme life-threatening health effects that are caused by exposure to harmful radiation, thermal, or blast arising from a nuclear deployment.

Detecting these materials and weapons has been optimized over the last couple of years, with new and improving devices being brought forward for the utilization of emergency responders. These CBRNe detection devices have capabilities that allow for identification and communication of CBRN threats, as well as the capacity to recognize potential CBRNe threats through equipment, education, and effective protocols.

CBRN Attack

CBRN is what can be described as a low probability, high risk threat. Although the chances of an attack utilizing these materials is low, if it were to occur the results could be significant and even deadly. A CBRN attack can occur in several different manners which include:

  • Criminal acts, a deliberate dumping or release of hazardous materials to avoid regulatory requirements.
  • A maliciously motivated poisoning of one or more individuals.
  • Or a terrorist act that involves serious violence or brutality to people or property.

A CBRN attack differs from a normal terrorist attack significantly in many aspects. CBRN agents cause contamination and specific health hazards depending on the type of agent utilized and the amount of the agent deployed into the environment. Conclusively, CBRN attacks can present complete destruction and mass casualties with the sole intent of harming a whole group of people.

CBRN Threat Brief

Terroristic threats are a dangerous potential crisis for large populations of people. The development and utilization of CBRN weapons has proven a lethal threat and one that must be prepared for heavily. The full extent of the potential CBRN threats cannot be predicted as they can evolve in unanticipated ways depending on a number of outside factors. The unpredictability and uncertainty of these threats can pose a challenge in preparing for a possible CBRN threat.

Also, before a CBRN threat occurs, there are no warnings that are initiated prior to the threat, so being alert of potential indicators that may appear is critical. Indicators can occur suddenly and seem out of place such as powders, liquids, or strange smells.

CBRN Threats in Relation to TerrorismCBRN Threats in Relation to Terrorism

Terrorism and terrorist threats has been a main focus for the U.S. government. As of the past decades we have seen a growing recognition that vigilance in preventing terrorist groups from obtaining dangerous weapons, such as CBRN threats, is vital to protecting the health and safety of a large group of individuals. The strategy for countering terrorism is strengthened by counter programs that aim to reduce or abolish CBRN materials produced and stored by states.

The use of CBRN materials and the developing expertise of these weapons remains a haunting terrorist threat. Many terrorist groups have stated their intent to acquire, develop, and implement these materials. Within the last couple of years these threats have rung true, as ISIS was found responsible for a hazardous sulfur mustard attack in Syria on August 21, 2015. This attack gave the United States a proactive mission to disrupt and deny ISIS’s CBRN capabilities.

What Does a CBRN Specialist Do?

Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialists also known as CBRN or chemical operations specialists, are U.S. Army personnel who are responsible for protecting the country from weapons that fall into any of those categories. Specialists that are called to respond to a disaster will distribute protective gear or enter into impacted areas to begin the decontamination process. The CBRN specialist are trained to manage, train, and maintain protective gear that military members will wear when exposed to CBRN threats.

A CBRN specialist protects the country from the threat of these weapons of mass destruction and any weapon of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear type. They plan and use highly advanced equipment in coordination with defense systems that are used against CBRN threats.

Types of Chemical Agent Detection Devices

Chemical agent detection methods will be an essential part of both medical crisis and consequence management. Detection and identification of the chemical agent or agents at the scene of a terrorist incident has to be accomplished but not at the expense of rapid and appropriate medical treatment of chemical casualties. Normally, an incident that involves the release of any chemicals or toxic materials will be categorized as a hazardous materials incident. Therefore, the first emergency responders who arrive on the scene must be capable of determining the Hazmat incident and be able to implement chemical agent detection devices at the scene.

Chemical detection equipment that is currently used by Hazmat teams varies considerably by the location. Large metropolitan areas and their current detectors can range from adequate to no capability for CWA detection. However, Hazmat teams are routinely equipped with a variety of chemical detectors and monitoring kits that can provide useful when chemical threats occur in the environment.

Chemical Decontamination Solution

When a chemical threat is detected in the environment the use of a chemical decontamination solution is needed. Depending on the chemical threat many chemical decon products require a different solution that is needed to apply to the chemical to achieve decontamination – this can be a lengthy process of identifying and decontaminating. However, with the FAST-ACT decontamination products, hazmat and first responders are able to quickly decontaminate a broad spectrum of chemical agents, including CWAs, without having to identify the chemical before deploying the decontamination process. The proprietary technology undergoes a patented process that makes the earth mineral ingredients highly reactive against a broad spectrum of chemicals, adsorbing and neutralizing chemical threats from the surface and air.

Chemical Decontamination Solution

CBRNe threats and detection devices are a very helpful and effective measure to have when a threat of this magnitude and danger is present to an environment and a population of people. Being prepared and protected with CBRN detection devices will aid in the overall safety of civilians and emergency responders upon the deployment of these potentially deadly CBRN materials.

Decontamination of Chemical Threats: from Person to Electronics

By | chemical attacks properness, chemical spill clean up, Uncategorized

Decontamination is a process of making any person, object, or area safe by absorbing, neutralizing, or destroying chemical agents released in the environment. Chemical Warfare Agents (CWAs) are very complex and destructive agents that can be deployed or released into an area causing significant issues to both public health & overall safety. Chemical agents can be classified as nerve agents, blood agents, choking agents, and TICs (Toxic Industrial Chemical) – each category of chemical agents contain different characteristics that create a lethal concoction.

Chemical threats may be dispersed in many different forms ranging from liquid form to vapor form, which can both have their own hazardous effects on the environment, human health, and on decontamination equipment. CWAs in vapor form can penetrate into the interior of decon equipment and damage the equipment if the chemical agent is highly corrosive. Whereas CWAs in liquid form can adhere to a surface, spread over the surface, and penetrate into tiny spaces such as cracks and crevices – this type of adsorption can cause changes to the properties of the material, which can affect the decontamination equipment. Decontamination of chemical threats can be a very challenging process and having the proper equipment and trained personnel can help to accomplish a complete decontamination of a chemical threat.

What is the Purpose of Decontamination?

What is the Purpose of DecontaminationDecontamination is a multi-faceted topic that involves several components including health issues, hazardous materials (HAZMAT) issues, emergency response issues, and crime scene issues. This practice is set in place to facilitate the neutralization or destruction of hazardous chemicals that may get released into an environment.

Decontamination practices offer a rapid solution to limiting the spread of contaminants from the “hot zone”, where chemicals affect a specific area. There are many components included in the decontamination process, such as cleaning contaminated victims from a wide spectrum of chemical threats and neutralizing a contaminated area from hazardous materials.

Unfortunately, the reality is that often times decon is only conducted as an afterthought after an incident occurs, and because of this, decon can sometimes be dismissed as not an integral or important part of the response procedure. And when decontamination procedures are not implemented it can lead to a very volatile environment that can be significantly hazardous to humans.

What are the Basic Principles of Decontamination?

Decontamination overall is essential to have for emergency responders, HAZMAT, and military members who are typically the individuals who are exposed to and on the scene at a contaminated area. The resources required to perform a proper and effective decontamination is fairly costly in terms of manpower, time, space and even material, but the benefits that decontamination provide to the safety of the environment and humans is invaluable.

The process of decontamination is composed of basic principles to help facilitate a successful decon application – these four basic principles include speed, need, limit, and priority. Of these four principles, speed is amongst the most crucial when it comes to decontamination. Contamination of a chemical threat on personnel or in a specific area can pose an immediate hazard and become lethal within minutes after contamination takes place. Therefore, implementing immediate action and decontamination practices will play a key role in the effect of a chemical release or outbreak.

What are the Three Main Levels of Decontamination?

Depending on the level of hazard, the amount of the chemical present, and the actual chemical that is at play can all lead to a specific form of decontamination that needs to be activated. There are two categories of decontamination that can be used during a chemical release – Passive or Active Decontamination. Passive decontamination is accomplished by exposing an object to high temperatures, sunlight, and wind, which is a very time-consuming process for decontamination. Whereas active decontamination is a process of removing and neutralizing liquid or solid contamination of CWAs, this is a rapid decontamination solution that most emergency responders will utilize during a chemical release.

The active decontamination process is subdivided into three main levels of decontamination – immediate, operational, and thorough.

  • Immediate decontamination: Decon that is performed by the individuals and can include the decontamination of personal clothing and/or equipment. This can save lives, minimize casualties and limit the spread of contamination. It can also be performed on individual protective equipment to sustain personal protection.
  • Operational decontamination: Decon that is performed by an individual and/or unit on a specific part of operational significant equipment. This helps to minimize contact, transfer hazard, and to sustain operations.
  • Thorough decontamination: Decon that is performed by a unit to reduce contamination on personnel, equipment, material, and working areas to the lowest potential level.

All three levels of decontamination focus on both personnel decontamination and environment/surface decontamination. The process of decontaminating surfaces can be complex, as there are many factors you must take into consideration before containing and neutralizing the chemical threat. Many decontamination solutions require the identification of the chemical to properly neutralize the chemical threat, and this can be extremely time consuming. However, with the aid of a universal chemical decontamination solution, emergency-responders can quickly contain and neutralize the environment in which a chemical threat was present. FAST-ACT is a chemical decontamination provider that utilizes a proprietary formulation of non-toxic, high-performance specialty materials effective at neutralizing a wide range of toxic chemicals with the added capability of destroying CWAs.

How Do You Decontaminate Someone

FAST-ACT is revolutionary for liquid/vapor chemical decon with its ability to decontaminate a broad range of chemicals without the need of identifying the chemical at play. Thus, eliminating precious time wasted and minimizing health effects for those exposed.

How Do You Decontaminate Someone?

What are the Three Main Levels of DecontaminationDecontamination is most effective if victims first remove their clothing, as this has been shown to eliminate alone as much as 80-90% of all contamination. The effectiveness of removing clothes prior to decontamination rapidly decreases with time following exposure, so quick action should be taken following contamination. Victims are typically decontaminated in the water shower deluge of the decontamination corridor. Depending on the type of chemical exposure, the decontamination process can vary, the variations include the following:

  • Vapor Chemical Threat: A victim that has been exposed to the vapor should rub with either their hands, a soft cloth, or a sponge to remove the contaminants, from head to toe.
  • Liquid Chemical Threat: A victim that has been exposed to the liquid should use soap or a solution of detergent and water can be applied immediately to the skin.

Understanding and knowing the processes of implementing decontamination practices can be very vital to an emergency -responder who comes across a contaminated environment. Learning the purpose of decontamination and the best practices will help you to minimize the risks and contain a hazardous situation.

Chemical Threats the 'C' in CBRNe

Chemical Threats: the ‘C’ in CBRNe

By | chemical attack preparation, chemical attacks properness, terrorist attack preparation

CBRNe Chemical ThreatsChemical threats, an increasingly prepared for and prevalent form of attack, has become significantly highlighted to first-responders, military, and hazmat teams. The term CBRNe is a widely known and popular term for medical professionals and military defense individuals. CBRNe involves chemical threats as the ‘C’ that is found in CBRNe. The risks of chemical threats have come from recent terrorist attacks that have deployed the use of toxic and hazardous chemical agents. Chemical agents can include common chemicals utilized in laboratories (TICs), as well as deadly chemical warfare agents (CWAs).

Among the different weapons categorized as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), chemical warfare is identified as one of the most dangerous weapons created by mankind that can create utter brutality upon deployment. Chemical threats are extremely hazardous chemicals that can be dispersed as a gas, liquid, or aerosol that spreads aggressively throughout the environment. Chemical threats have been one of the key weapons used in Syria over the last few years, as the conflict among the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic and foreign/domestic allies continues to rage on throughout the Country. These recent attacks have highlighted the strength and brutality of chemical threats, leaving many countries grasping for solutions and protection strategies to implement for a possible chemical agent threat upon their area. CBRNe education and training has become a much needed and explored topic after recent chemical threats, with many fields quickly adopting this specific training into their environment.

What Does CBRNe Stand for?

CBRNe is an acronym for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high yield Explosives. The weapons classified under this acronym all have the ability to create extremely hazardous conditions that can lead to mass casualties and disrupt society completely. CBRNe events are commonly comprised of deliberate or aggressive acts, with the malicious intent of inciting fear or causing grave harm to humans and the environment.

Emergency responders are being taught how to recognize and mitigate attacks from such weapons and learning the key identifying characteristics between the different CBRNe weapons. The characteristics of CBRNe weapons are found below.

  • Chemical Threats: Chemical threats consist of weapons that utilize a hazardous chemical that is designed to cause intentional death or harm through its toxic properties. The four different types of chemical agents include choking agents, blister agents, blood agents, and nerve agents. This chemical threat has a direct effect on many human organs and systems including the respiratory system, lungs, heart, and skin. Symptoms that can occur upon exposure to a chemical agent includes watery eyes, itching, coughing, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, and potentially death.
  • Biological Threats: A biological weapon, also called germ weapon, is any number of disease-producing agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins, and other biological agents, that can be used as a weapon against humans. Lethal biological weapons are capable of causing mass deaths upon humans and have been responsible for more deaths than from those employed by combat. There are five different categories of biological agents including bacteria, rickettsia, viruses, fungi, and toxins. The symptoms a human may experience from a biological threat can range depending on the different category of biological agent.
  • Radiological Threats: Radiological threats are weapons that disperse radioactive agents to inflict injury or cause contamination and damage. A commonly used radiological threat is the dirty bomb, which utilizes a conventional explosion to disperse radioactive contaminants into an environment. The effects of radiological threats upon the health of an individual can vary depending on the intensity, duration, and type of radiation. Symptoms from this classification of warfare can include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, diarrhea, infection, bleeding, gastrointestinal symptoms, and even death.
  • Nuclear Threats: Nuclear weapons are devices designed to release energy in an explosive manner as a result of nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, or a combination of the two. This classification of weapon can lead to extreme danger to human health.
  • Explosive Threats: An explosive weapon generally uses high explosives to project a blast and fragmentation from the point of detonation. Explosive weapons can lead to mass casualties in the affected area.

What is a CBRN Attack?

CBRNe attacks can happen either accidentally or intentionally – but no matter the circumstance the effects are bound to be grave. An accidental CBRN attack is typically caused by human error, natural, or technological reasons. This can include spills, accidental releases, or leakages that cause the incident to occur. When an accident occurs with these weapons it is usually referred to as DG or a HAZMAT accident.

Whereas intentional CBRN incidents involve criminal acts, maliciously motivated poisoning of an individual, or a terrorist attack or act. An intentional CBRN attack can leave great devastation after deployment, with a calculated plan to harm a large area with many individuals present when the attack occurs. These weapons are usually described as ‘low probability, high risk’, because of the relatively low risk of a CBRNe attack occurring but the high threat risk to public health upon an attack taking place in the environment.

The Risk of a Chemical Attack

The Risk of a Chemical AttackThe severity of an attack is dependent upon several different factors, particularly the toxicity of the chemical and its concentration when it reaches people. The release of a chemical agent or a chemical attack in an enclosed space (such as a subway, airport, or an office space) could deliver lethal doses, high enough to severely hurt or kill a large group of people. In comparison, when a chemical attack is deployed in an open area, a toxic chemical cloud, or plume, would become less concentrated as it spreads and would have to be released in a large quantity to produce significant casualties.

Immediate health impacts can start to effect humans upon exposure to a chemical agent that has been deployed during a chemical attack. Symptoms from exposure to toxic chemicals will start to appear quickly, sometimes a couple hours or even a couple minutes following exposure. The health risks alone from a chemical attack solidify the strength and devastation that a chemical attack can wreak over an environment.

CBRNe Terrorism

Terrorism or terrorist attacks that involve the use of CBRNe materials pose a very real and dangerous threat to public health and safety. Terroristic threats utilizing CBRNe weapons can also impact national security, economic, and political stability on a global level. When these types of weapons are deployed in an act of terrorism, the complete destruction could be insurmountable – leading to unrepairable effects on the human population and environment.

Preventing the risks of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons has been a top U.S. national security priority for a long period of time. The United States has become hyperaware and vigilant in preventing terrorist groups from obtaining these weapons to protect U.S. civilians. The main used devices for terrorist attacks include chemical, biological, and radiological weapons.

What are Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Devices?

CBR (Chemical, Biological, and Radiological) devices are without a doubt dangerous threats to public health and safety. Chemical, Biological, and Radiological devices produce airborne hazardous contaminants that can be in the form of gases, vapors, or aerosols. These types of airborne contaminants can be very dangerous as they enter the body rapidly and impact health within hours or even minutes after exposure.

What Does a CBRN Specialist Do?

Decontamination providers have focused on providing a means to protect individuals who are exposed and decontaminate the source of hazard in the environments. The way that these decontamination solutions are delivered to the appropriate field workers and experts (such as the Military, Emergency-Responders, and Hazmat) is through CBRN Specialists. The specialist has many job duties including assisting in CBRN defense measures, provide training advice and supervision of CBRN equipment, & operate CBRN detection and decon equipment.

The CBRN specialists’ job is quite complex and vital to the safety of a large population of people in the country, therefore, having efficient and easily deployed decon solutions is critical for the CBRN specialist. For example, a decontamination solution for chemical warfare such as FAST-ACT can help a CBRN specialist, especially given the fact that FAST-ACT does not require identification of the chemical deployed in the environment. FAST-ACT is a decontamination provider that utilizes a proprietary formulation that is able to break down and neutralize a broad spectrum of chemical agents including chemical warfare agents (CWAs). The FAST-ACT technology is adapted into several different applications for both liquid and vapor chemical hazard containment and decontamination.

Chemical Decontamination Solution for Chemical CBRNe Threats

The Importance of Medical Preparedness in CBRNe

The Importance of Medical Preparedness in CBRNe

By | chemical attack preparation, chemical attacks properness, Uncategorized

Medical PreparednessThere are many threats that plague the community whether it be from natural occurrences like weather, disease, or even from planned attacks taken out on a large population of people. Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNe) agents are some of the most toxic agents that can be used for attacks and war in the world. With the growing threat of these agents and their uses, the increased hazard to business and communities is significant.

Medical professionals are trained individuals that are prepared with a vast knowledge of health ailments and medical remedies that are capable to improve the circumstances of someone suffering from a chronic or acute ailment. Many health care professionals are trained on the day-to-day, commonly seen diseases and conditions that are mostly seen and treated. However, these professionals are not regularly taught the symptoms and medical solutions for exposure to or ingestion/inhalation of CBRNe agents.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness

Health care professionals are often times the first line of defense when it comes to identifying and treating patients that have unfortunately come into contact with the dangerous CBRNe agents. When a patient arrives with severe symptoms and time is of the essence – the pressure is on for the medical team to quickly come to the correct diagnosis and treatment for the patient’s future health. If someone is experiencing nausea, vomiting, and tremors – a physician who is inept in CBRN training can easily diagnose the patient with a number of other medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, or even an opioid overdose. Whereas medical professionals with a background or training in CBRN may consider a diagnosis of nerve agent exposure or even mild radiation sickness. Therefore, having medical preparedness in CBRN, especially our medical professionals can be life-saving.

CBRNE Training

The training for medical professionals on CBRNe agents is done through a four-day course that is designed to prepare responders to effectively respond to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) or mass casualty incident. This training is designed for emergency medical services, healthcare, public health, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and hospital staff- this includes physicians, nurses and responders.

Medical CBRNE training, The Emergency Medical Operations for CBRNE Incidents (EMO), provides classroom lectures and extensive hands-on-training that allows responders to implement the emergency-response knowledge and skills when the need for them occurs. This training is organized by the Center for Domestic Preparedness.

CBRN Preparedness Program

A relatively new initiative, the CBRN Preparedness Program (CP2) is designed to work with partnering nations to help them prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the effects of a CBRN disaster. Regardless, if a country is threatened by intentional use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or is susceptible to a natural disaster or industrial accident involving CBRN hazards, their ability to respond quickly and justly can save lives and reduce damage.

The program is geared towards training and equipping military and civilian first responders to deal with the absolute worst-case scenarios and in turn they will become a valued partner in the mission to identify, reduce, and eliminate WMD and their potentially devastating effects.

National Strategy for CBRNE Standards

Prior to several instances that have taken place with toxic CBRNE agents, there was no national strategy for CBRNE standards put in place. The pursuit for a national strategy is critical as it is vital that the nation has reliable countermeasure equipment and knowledge on chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) agents. The strategy highlights the importance of medical preparedness and training for our first-responders and medical personnel workers. The importance for medical personnel to be trained in CBRN identification, treatment, and standards is essential to preventing mass casualties upon a potential CBRN agent outbreak.

 

The national strategy for CBRNE standards also consists of six goals, and they are as follows:

  1. Establish an interagency group for CBRNE standards to promote the coordination of these standards among Federal, State, local, and tribal communities.
  2. Coordinate and facilitate the development of CBRNE equipment performance standards and promote the use of standards for Federal, State, local, and tribal communities.
  3. Coordinate and facilitate the development and adoption of interoperability standards for CBRNE equipment.
  4. Promote enduring CBRNE standard operating procedures for Federal, State, local, and tribal use to improve National preparedness and response.
  5. Establish voluntary CBRNE training and certification standards for the Federal, State, local, and tribal communities and promote policies that foster their adoption.
  6. Establish a CBRNE equipment test and evaluation (T&E) infrastructure and capability to support conformity assessment standards.

Medical Preparedness for CBRN

With the numerous attacks and incidences that have occurred within the last decade or so the need and focus of medical preparedness has been highlighted. The way the United States health care system is able to respond to mass casualty incidents is important to protecting civilians. Training and preparing physicians and other medical personnel with CBRN awareness and identification will provide the healthcare worker with an understanding of chemical threat agent history, toxicology, medical intervention, etc.

CBRNe agents can be quite hazardous and sometimes deadly when contact or exposure occurs. There are many things that can be done to minimize the inherent health risks including environment and surface decontamination, protective gear, and medical preparedness upon release and exposure of these agents. Being prepared and having a preparedness plan in place will play a significant role in the reduction of risks to public safety following a CBRNe agent release or attack.

Decontamination Solution for CBRNe

How to Protect Against a Chlorine Gas Attack

How to Protect Against a Chlorine Gas Attack

By | chemical attack preparation, chemical attacks properness, terrorist attack preparation, Uncategorized

Chemical attacks utilizing a plethora of potentially deadly chemicals have been utilized in the past decades for warfare – impacting a large group of people in record amount of time, making chemical warfare a deadly threat to be reckoned with. There is a wide variety of lethal and even incapacitating chemical agents that can place a great hazard and danger to not only an area but to those exposed to the agent.

Humans may come into contact with chemical agents everyday whether that be because of the work environment (labs, plants, etc.), accidents, spills, or other disasters. However, the effects from these types of interactions are fairly minimal in comparison to large exposure in the form of a chemical attack.

One agent that we commonly hear news and reports of usage is the chemical agent Chlorine. Chlorine is a highly used chemical in both industries and in society and depending on the level of exposure to the agent – like a chlorine gas attack, the impact could be extremely hazardous to human health. With the threat of chemical attacks becoming more and more real, learning how to protect yourself against a threat like a chlorine gas attack could help you to sustain minimal health impacts and hazards.

What is Chlorine?

Chlorine is a very well-known chemical that is utilized commonly in everyday life. This chemical is used widely for chemical manufacturing, bleaching, drinking water and swimming pool disinfecting, and cleaning agents. Chlorine itself is a reactive chemical that when used on the human body can be very toxic. The production of chlorine is high making it an abundant chemical for people to get their hands on – including terrorist or planned attackers. When this chemical is released in an enclosed space or environment, that is when the strength of the attack is the strongest and the chemical can do the most destruction/harm.

How Dangerous is Chlorine Gas

Chlorine is a versatile chemical that can sometimes be in the form of a poisonous gas. Chlorine gas is a fast-acting gas that can spread quickly throughout the environment, staying closer to the ground. The odor that this dangerous chemical emits is easily recognized as a pungent odor, that is irritating to the senses, with an odor similar to bleach.

Chlorine gas was first registered in the U.S. in 1948, as a disinfectant for use in swimming pools and drinking water. The dangers of chlorine in the form of gas can be extremely hazardous and elicit reactions such as eye and throat irritation, airway obstruction, wheezing, coughing, abnormal chest radiographs, and bronchiolitis. Due to the ability of chlorine gas to spread quickly throughout the entire area, the impacts on the respiratory system is high and can result in serious health ailments- making chlorine gas quite dangerous to human health.

How Long Does Chlorine Gas Stay in the Air

There are many variables that play a role in the time the chlorine gas will be present in the environment. Two main variables include the size of the environment in which the gas was released into and the concentration/pressure of the gas. If chlorine gas is dispersed into a large area, then it will spread rapidly throughout the whole environment requiring more time to dissipate or be removed from the air. The amount of chlorine gas that is used and deployed also plays a role in the length of time the gas will stay in the air, the more chlorine released into the air the longer it will stay within the air of the impacted environment.

What Does Chlorine Gas Do to People

Chlorine gas can have a significant impact on a person –the gas acts as a pulmonary irritant that can cause damage to the upper and lower respiratory tract. This can include oral, nasal, and ocular pulmonary damage, which can lead to further ailments down the road. The chemical chlorine falls under the category of a choking agent as it can have altering effects on respiratory health. Most of the damage done by chlorine is caused by its dissolution into hydrochloric acid which can cause damage to inflammatory cells that lead to the release of oxidants and proteolytic enzymes. Overall, exposure to chlorine gas can be not only hazardous to humans but quite damaging to the health of those exposed.

Symptoms of Chlorine Gas Exposure

Upon exposure to chlorine gas there are many potential effects that may occur. The symptoms may vary based on different variables, but the most common symptoms include the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Burning pain, redness, and blisters on the skin
  • Burning sensations in the nose, throat, and eyes
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Watery eyes
  • Wheezing

Could Chlorine Be Used for a Terrorist Attack?

Chemicals, depending on the type, maybe easy to obtain, such as chlorine. Chlorine is heavily produced and easily accessible to the public, which has led to concerns as those with mal-intent could utilize this chemical in a dangerous way, such as a terrorist attack. When or if chlorine is released from an attack it will form a toxic gaseous plume that when carried by the wind is able to inflict potentially debilitating and catastrophic loss of life to the exposed population. Therefore, preparing for and protecting yourself from a potential chemical attack with the use of chlorine gas is becoming almost necessary for military, first-responders, and even civilians.

Recent Chlorine Gas Attacks

The use of chlorine as a chemical warfare agent was first deployed in the early beginning of World War I. As it began to be used in more wars, the damage created by this agent was seen as it killed more than 800 soldiers in the battle of Ypres. More and more commonly this chemical has been used in recent wars including in Iraq, where they detonated bombs that were rigged onto containers of chlorine. The United Nations Monitoring, Inspection, and Verification Commission found that at least 10 attacks involving chlorine occurred in Iraq up to June 1, 2007 which results in many casualties. This has progressed as time has passed, and now the war in Syria has demonstrated several attacks of chlorine onto civilians, leaving devastation, death, and many health issues to the Syrians impacted.

How to Decontaminate Chlorine

If you are exposed to chlorine gas in any capacity, including spills, accidents, or attacks, be sure that a decontamination procedure and gear are available to put into action. Chlorine is a heavy chemical that is heavier than air, and due to the weight of the chemical it will accumulate in low-lying areas unless a strong wind is present. If you are not a trained individual on decontamination methods, you will want to promptly evacuate the area or go to higher ground to seek shelter from the hazardous gas. Chlorine gas can spread far, and wide so evacuation is advised for 3 miles downward of a small chlorine release, and 5 miles downwind for a major release, and anywhere within 1500 feet of the source.

Once a chlorine gas attack occurs, rapid action is required to decontaminate the air in the environment, as well as the surfaces that have become contaminated. Many times, however, it may be difficult to determine the exact chemical that has been released in an attack – which requires time, sometime a lot of time, to determine the chemical and subsequently the best decontamination method to implement. But what if there was a decontamination method for vapor and liquid chemical releases that did not require the identification of the chemical agent released?

FAST-ACT, a chemical neutralization and decontamination technology, is a patented decon method for vapor and liquid spills that have become a hazard to the environment and that require immediate neutralization/decontamination of the chemical agent. FAST-ACT has the ability to adsorb and neutralize the immediate threat of a broad spectrum of hazardous chemicals including chlorine gas releases. The decon gear/products of FAST-ACT contain a proprietary formulation that consists of a number of active ingredients including MgO that helps to neutralize hazardous acids such as chlorine. When the toxic chlorine gas comes into contact with FAST-ACTs proprietary powder, a stable adduct is formed, where the chlorine is chemisorbed on the metal oxide surface.

FAST-ACT Testing Against Chlorine Gas

To determine the effectiveness of FAST-ACT a sealed chamber (214 L) was charged with a given concentration (ppm) of chlorine gas. After charging the chamber, FAST- ACT was sprayed into the chamber using pressurized nitrogen. Ten (10) minutes was allowed to elapse and the concentration of chlorine was determined using Drager tubes. At a ratio of 100:1 FAST-ACT to chlorine, the percent reduction was 98% when the initial concentration of chlorine was 500 ppm. This data indicated that 1-Kg FAST-ACT unit is capable of complete chlorine vapor neutralization in a 1,000 cubic foot space filled with 200 pm of Cl2 vapor. Correspondingly, the 2-Kg unit will remove 400 ppm and the 4-Kg 800 ppm from a same sized space.

Chlorine gas and an attack utilizing this chemical agent could be hazardous and sometimes deadly to a large population of people that may become affected by the release. Therefore, learning the potential dangers and the decontamination methods for neutralizing chlorine gas can protect civilian’s life and our beloved military and first-responder members.

Public Event Protection from Toxic Chemical Releases

Public Event Protection from Toxic Chemical Releases

By | chemical attack preparation, chemical attacks properness, terrorist attack preparation

Public events present a large platform for terrorist or planned attackers to target. Public venues host a significant number of attendees, therefore the potential risk of a planned attack taking place is extremely heightened. After the tragic events that have taken place at big venue locations like the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting, the November 2015 Paris Attacks on Stade de France, and the Manchester Bombing in 2017 the imminent risk of attacks occurring in an organized public venue has been amplified significantly.

Planned Terrorist AttackIn an effort to reduce or completely eliminate the risk of terror threats or attacks, the United States developed the Department of Homeland Security in 2001, classified to “develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks.” A big goal of this United States department recently was to increase focus on building and venue protection – particularly following the evolution of gruesome attacks that have increased in these settings.

Large crowds of civilians in one area such as in a venue, arena, or anywhere that a gathering of people have amassed has become a major monitored area for officials – but the level of difficulty associated with monitoring a large area such as these presents a daunting task for police forces and government officials. Extensive planning is required in preparation of a large organized event occurring – including communication with local first responders and safety services and selecting the best means to effectively detect and protect the venue from hazardous weapons such as bombs, guns, and even chemical attacks that can severely hurt a large group of people.

This guide is designed to provide an overview of how to prepare and defend an event, public gathering, or venue from potential attacks or accidents involving volatile organic compounds (VOCs), toxic chemicals, and even CWAs that could significantly affect a sizable gathering of civilians – as well as protecting those who protect us, like first responders. 

Background on the Importance of Venue Protection

Background on the Importance of Venue ProtectionTerrorist attacks in the United States is on a steady incline, with the growing issue taking over and increasing worry for civilians and most importantly the United States Government. The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, along with other international incidents such as the Tokyo subway attack with sarin gas, has forced the United States Congress to focus more on domestic preparedness for attacks that utilize Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

Preparedness starts with first-responders and police officials, providing proper training on how to deal with attacks, specifically involving chemical agents, is necessary for those designated with protecting civilians. The Domestic Preparedness Act was a bill funded by the U.S. Congress for training of emergency responders and acquisition of equipment to support their efforts. This law or bill has widespread impact on many organizations including the following:

  • Fire/HazMat (hazardous materials)
  • Police
  • EMS (emergency medical services)
  • Hospitals

Also, it is important for event staffers to receive security awareness training to help reduce the risk of attacks occurring during a venue event. Event staffers are many times the first line of defense in creating and maintaining a secure inner perimeter in and around a venue. Therefore, training workers to remain vigilant will help to improve overall security in a large public venue event.

Preparing for Terrorism at Public Events

Dealing with potential attacks or terrorism in a large public event requires careful planning and training in minimizing the risks and dangers to public safety. The Domestic Preparedness Act and the complete planning of first-responders creates an increase insight into the many difficulties and challenges of shielding and protecting a large group of gathered civilians. The greater understanding that officials have in relation to the hazards surrounding terrorism in public events, the more feasible it is to effectively prepare and combat risks at a lower level of danger to the public while still protecting civilians.

First responders and officials walk a fine-line in either over-responding or under-responding to an attack placed on a sizable amount of people.

Over-responding can taint community confidence and public support for the first-responding agencies if they view the actions taken as unnecessary, expensive, and/or time consuming.

Under-responding can lead to panic, mass hysteria, civilian injuries, and even death. Following the attack, news coverage could focus on the ill-preparation from response teams.

Chemical Attack & Release Preparedness

Chemical releases and attacks under ill-preparation will have devastating consequences, placing both first responders and the public at risk. The complications involving chemical releases, and/or a chemical attack is the inability to be able to monitor or get a cohesive description on the exact chemical that is released into the air and in the environment. Depending on the chemical that is released it will require different methods for neutralization of the agent and overall decontamination of the affected environment.

Dangers of Chemical Warfare Agents (CWAs) in Venue Attacks

Dangers of Chemical Warfare Agents (CWAs) in Venue AttacksTerrorists and other attackers have the potential to unveil a lethal chemical force upon civilians. These agents called, Chemical Warfare Agents (CWAs), are chemical compounds designed to either kill or debilitate opposing military forces and is a major factor of concern for security and police experts who acknowledge the threat these chemicals present to civilians. Chemical warfare agents were originally developed from TICs (Toxic Industrial Chemicals) and TIMs (Toxic Industrial Materials) that were created by civilians. In turn, these chemicals have been utilized in attacks on civilians posing a lethal threat to the public in the event of its deployment. Although chemical attacks may appear obtuse and/or unlikely to occur there is a growing concern of chemicals being used as a weapon in large scale attacks – particularly with CWAs.

Weapons of mass destruction preparedness programs were primarily focused only on military CWAs, but it has become apparent that many other equally hazardous chemicals are widely available in many industries which can create an added risk to venues and other large-scale events. What preparedness tools or technologies should be available if or when an incident involving chemical agents occurs upon a group of civilians?

Chemical Neutralization & Decontamination Technology for Event Protection

FAST-ACT® is a proprietary formulation of non-toxic high-performance specialty materials effective at neutralizing a wide range of toxic chemicals with the added capability to destroy chemical warfare agents. The FAST-ACT formulation is non-flammable, noncorrosive, and significantly reduces both liquid and vapor hazards. Since the dry powder neutralizes threats upon contact, on-site incident management and clean up times are reduced.

FAST-ACT works quickly to significantly reduce hazards associated with common industrial chemicals including: acids, acidic/caustic gases, organic compounds, phosphorus and sulfur compounds, and many industrial solvents. By the nature of FAST-ACT’s innovative chemistry, hazards are chemically bound to the surface of the powder minimizing off-gassing.

Chemical Neutralization & Decontamination Technology for Event Protection

Tested by U.S. Soldier Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) and Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), FAST-ACT is proven to remove over 99.6% (detection limit) of VX, GD (soman) and HD (mustard “gas”) from surfaces in under 90 seconds, converting them to safer by-products.

FAST-ACT is effective against a wide range of toxic chemicals including:

  • Acids
  • Halogenated compounds
  • Phosphorus compounds
  • Acidic and caustic gases
  • Organic compounds
  • Chemical warfare agents
  • Neutralizes both liquid and vapor hazards
  • Rapid-acting upon contact
  • Life-safety threat reduction
  • Reduces on-site management time and cost Non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-flammable Dry powder formulation Safe to apply to all liquid and vapor releases Easy to operate delivery systems
  • No premixing is required
  • All units are portable No special training required Effective over a wide range of temperatures and environmental conditions Compact containers for easy storage

FAST-ACT rapidly (under 2 minutes) treats a wide range of acids (e.g., hydrochloric, nitric, phosphoric and sulfuric), acidic and caustics gases (e.g., sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, chlorine, anhydrous ammonia), oxidizers (ethylene oxide), organics such as alcohols (e.g.,methanol, ethanol), aldehydes (i.e., acetaldehyde), fuels (e.g., diesel, gasoline), aromatics (e.g., p-cresol), organic compounds containing heteroatom such as: sulfur (e.g., mercaptans), phosphorus (paraoxon, dimethyl methyl phosphonate) and nitrogen (4-vinyl pyridine, acetonitrile) and halogenated compounds (chloroacetyl chloride, acetyl chloride).

Venue Protection from CWAs

FAST-ACT’s efficacy against nerve agents GD, VX and blistering agent HD has been tested at Battelle and SBCCOM. The formulation was found to remove over 99.6% (detection limit) of these agents from surfaces within 90 seconds. In a subsequent step the agents are destroyed producing much safer products. In addition to the chemical warfare agents, FAST-ACT was found to destroy simulants of chemical warfare nerve, mustard, blood, and choking agents.

The FAST-ACT product line includes the following:

  • FAST-ACT 5 kg Bulk Pail: The 5 kg bulk pail can be safely applied where known or unknown chemicals are a potential threat. Typical applications include for Hazmat Team spill response and containment, sorbent in decon line shuffle pit, rapid covering of surfaces with decon powder, neutralization of unknown chemical mixtures, and industrial & commercial facility leaks.FAST-ACT 5 kg Bulk Pail
  • FAST-ACT 500-gram Shaker Bottle: The 500-gram shaker bottle can be safely applied to Hazmat teams small scale spill response, fine decon in conjunction with the FAST-ACT Decon Mitt, emergency onsite containment for first responders, laboratories in schools, hospitals, and commercial use, and lastly personal equipment containment and neutralization of containment.FAST-ACT 500-gram Shaker Bottle
  • FAST-ACT Decon Mitt: The Decon Mitt allows for safe and easy wiping and handling of chemical spills and neutralized industrial materials. Typical applications for the decon mitt include Hazmat Teams gear cleaning, military special forces and tactical equipment rapid decon, emergency surface decontamination – small scale, decon lines, and cleanup of unknown hazards.FAST-ACT Decon Mitt
  • FAST-ACT Mask (3pk): The FAST-ACT Mask can be safely applied where known and unknown chemicals are a potential threat. Typical applications include airway defense against vapor release and attacks, airway defense against toxic and noxious chemical malodors, and respiratory protection during chemical decontamination and cleanup.FAST-ACT Mask
  • FAST-ACT Pressurized Cylinder (Available in 1, 2, or 4 kg): The Pressurized Cylinders offer a solution for vapor or liquid chemical releases in both enclosed and large spaces. Typical applications include for Hazmat team’s airspace decontamination, neutralization of acidic gases, rapid decontamination of gear, enclosed spaces knockdown of vapor and odors, and decontamination of shelter/tent cleanup.FAST-ACT Pressurized Cylinder
  • FAST-ACT Microfiber Towel Pack: The Microfiber Towel Pack includes two microfiber towels, one to absorb the excess liquid chemical from the surface, and the other to contain the surface chemical decontamination with the FAST-ACT technology. Typical applications include surface decontamination, chemical decontamination of small and intricate items, and gear cleanup.FAST-ACT Microfiber Towel Pack
  • FAST-ACT Powder Bottle Pack: The Powder Bottle Pack can be utilized in conjunction with the FAST-ACT Microfiber Towel Pack or Decon Mitt, it can be applied for surface decontamination, chemical decontamination of small and intricate items, and gear cleanup. FAST-ACT Powder Bottle Pack
Tear Gas Effects & Protection for Civilians

Tear Gas Effects & Protection for Civilians

By | chemical attack preparation, chemical attacks properness

Have you ever witnessed a riot or large crowd that is increasingly growing more and more dangerous? Whether it be a local protest, fight, or demonstration a large group of people in an area can erupt into chaos, particularly for law enforcement officers. A major riot control agent, like tear gas can be used in many instances for security forces, but due to the nature of the chemical there are strict international guidelines in place around its use and the way in which it can be deployed against civilians for crowd control measures. How dangerous can tear gas be to human health and what can be utilized to protect yourself from this chemical agent?

Tear Gas vs CS GasTear Gas vs CS Gas

Tear gas is classified as a non-lethal irritant that contains a couple different chemicals, including a variant of capsaicin, but the gas most commonly used on protesters is “CS Gas”, or 2-chlorobenzalmalonitrile. According to “Tear Gas, With an Emphasis on Self Defense,” there are three kinds of tear gas a consumer can buy:

  • CS (chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile)
  • CN (chloroacetophenone) – often found in Mace
  • Pepper spray – made from chili peppers mixed with a vehicle like corn oil

What is CS Gas?

CS gas is among one of the most commonly used tear gases in the world. Law enforcement agencies and officials have found this agent valuable when faced with combative suspects, riot control, and for hostage and siege situations. Exposure to CS gas will cause distressing symptoms including lacrimation, eye pain, blepharospasm, a burning sensation in the nose & throat, chest tightness, sneezing, & coughing. CS gas starts to affect the environment and those exposed to it within 30 to 60 seconds after deployment.

What is CN Gas?

 CN gas, also known as Chloroacetophenone, is the active ingredient utilized in maze, to help as a riot control or tear agent for law enforcement officials. This gas has a sharp, irritating odor that disperses upon deployment. The CN gas can be absorbed by ingestion and inhalation in humans. CN has similar affects to CS gas and can include temporary loss of balance and even permanent skin damage. Overall, the effects of CN gas last longer than that of CS gas.

What is Pepper Spray?

The active ingredient in pepper spray is oleoresin capsicum (OC), a natural oil found in many types of hot peppers. Pepper spray is usually dispensed from an aerosol canister to disperse quickly into the environment. Exposure from pepper spray can result in blisters to the skin.

What Does Tear Gas Do to Human Health?

Tear gas, despite its name, is not a gas, but an aerosol. The chemical agent CS that is utilized in tear gas is a solid at room temperature and mixed with liquid or gas dispersal agents when used as a weapon designed to trigger the pain-sensing nerves. Tear gas works by triggering a reaction from the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs. According to the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, signed by nearly every country in the world, banned the use of tear gas in warfare but found it legal in domestic riot control. When tear gas is deployed the chemical can create a cloud that affects the area the discharge took place. The chemical cloud will affect a person’s eyes, nose, and respiratory system – and can illicit other health reactions.

The Effects of Tear Gas

Tear gas has strong and lasting effects on human health. This vapor release will potentially irritate the mucous membrane of the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs which can lead to tearing, coughing, burning, and stinging sensations. According to German toxicologist Uwe Heinrich, the dispersion of this chemical at a concentration of one milligram per cubic meter will cause symptoms of irritation. The overall composition of tear gas is designed to disable humans – rendering them from being able to fully function upon exposure.

This release also presents difficulty when removing from any impacted structure. Where tear gas is deployed, canisters are shot from launchers that heat the deployed canisters prior to its release, this helps increase area of dispersion more effectively. The particles that are released from the deployment are heavy and they settle eventually but can move from a powder state to gas under heat – which increases the likelihood of recontamination in the environment.

Tear Gas Protection Plan

There are many myths surrounding the different methods to implement for protection against tear gas, and it can be hard to see through them all. Some of the debunked myths include the following:

  • Soaking a bandana or cloth in apple cider vinegar and tightly covering your mouth with it.
  • Smearing lime or lemon juice on the inside of a cloth and tightly covering your mouth with it.
  • Soaking a bandana in water and tightly covering your mouth with it.
  • Smearing toothpaste under your eyes.
  • Or Sniffling a freshly cut onion

The chemical CN, utilized in tear gas is a potent, sharp, and irritating chemical that can be released into indoor air as fine particulate smoke, vapor, or liquid and due to the nature of this chemical many DIY protection methods simply fall short in providing real protection. For personal protection from tear gas, a protective mask is the best tool to implement. Tear gas is released into the air and can be inhaled or ingested when exposure occurs. In an effort to prevent chemical exposure and inhalation, utilizing a protective face mask can be critical. The FAST-ACT VapourKlenz Face Mask is ideal for toxic chemical vapor releases in the environment. FAST-ACT utilizes a patented earth mineral technology that is designed to attack and neutralize a broad spectrum of chemicals including chemical warfare agents (CWAs). Chloroacetophenone (CN), when dissolved in a solvent and released as an aerosol, FAST-ACT can interact with the compound at different active sites for neutralization. FAST-ACT also functions by knocking the liquid spray down when it has been released to an air space.

Tear Gas Neutralization