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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.

The Dangers of Acid Attacks in London

The Dangers of Acid Attacks in London: A List of the Most Corrosive Acids

By | chemical attack preparation, chemical attacks properness, Uncategorized

Violence was once predominately accomplished through the use of guns & knives, but as time has progressed attackers have turned to a new method of violence focusing on a new weapon – corrosive acids that have been deployed in many acid attacks that have increasingly occurred throughout the UK. The United Kingdom has one of the highest rates of acid attacks per capita in the world, according to the Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI).

Why has acid become the new weapon of choice among gang members and attackers? Acid use to be a weapon of last resort, however, due to its easy accessibility and the fact that it is hard to monitor has amplified the use of these acids in attacks ten-fold. Recently attacks in the UK have transpired on the streets – particularly to food delivery drivers in an effort to steal their scooters, on the London trains, and even in London nightclubs where frequent acid attacks have happened leading to a dangerous environment to many as the chemicals/acids quickly disperse into the air. What can be done to protect UK civilians from these dangerous attacks & chemicals?

The Rise of Acid Attacks

Acid attacks in London have increased dramatically in recent years, and lawmakers and the police force are now contemplating methods to make acids that are commonly used as weapons, more difficult to obtain for the general public.

Chief Superintendent Simon Laurence of Hackney borough in east London said, “that between 2015 and 2016, acid attacks have increased by 74%”. Between 2014 to 2016, acid attacks have steadily increased each year; 2014 saw 166 acid attacks, 2015 saw 261 acid attacks, and lastly 2016 saw a dramatic jump of 454 acid attacks. Last year also experienced a significant rise of acid attacks and was regarded as the worst year ever for these attacks, with more than 400 incidents reported in the six months to April 2017 alone!

The culprit for these steadily increasing acid attack statistics is primarily from gang disputes. The UK acid attackers saw a strong correlation of male victims, unlike many countries that saw about 80% of acid attacks against women. This could be due to the high poverty and lack of opportunities for many young men in London that are led into the world of gang violence.

What is an Acid Attack – and Why is it so Lethal

Acid attacks, also known as acid throwing, is a form of violent assault explained as the act of throwing corrosive acid onto somebody’s body with the intention of significantly harming, disfiguring, or killing the intended victim. The most common acid used in these attacks are sulpheric acid, which is found in car batteries. Also, commonly used is nitric and hydrochloric acids.

These acids when thrown onto a person’s body will start to melt the flesh, sometimes to the bone, and leave permanent scarring or even physical disfigurement. The overall long-term consequences of these lethal acid attacks can include blindness, permanent scarring of the face or body, and also social, psychological, or economic difficulties.

Identifying the Most Corrosive Acids Used in These Attacks

Buying corrosive acids have never been so easy to purchase as they are now. Well-known high street chains and online outlets make it increasingly easy to purchase sulphuric acid as well as other corrosive acids with just a few clicks of your computer mouse. Scary, right?

Acid attacks typically utilize different chemistries of corrosive acids and chemicals in these planned attacks. The chemistries involved can include acid family, base family, vapor threats, and toxics. Each of these different chemistries can interact and create different results when exposure occurs, understanding the different acids/chemicals in each category and the best solution to implement to neutralize the release or dispersant of these agents can help to minimize exposure risks to civilians.

Acid Family

Corrosive, can quickly damage the skin, eyes, and rapidly go into the vapor phase upon release. These are all dangerous characteristics of acid chemicals composed of the acid family utilized in acid attacks. The major forms of acid in this category include the following:

  • Sulfuric Acid: This acid is commonly found in common household products such as drain cleaner and fertilizer and is a clear, colorless, and odorless liquid. This dangerous chemical is capable of corroding the skin, paper, metals, and even stone in some cases. If this chemical makes direct contact with your eyes it can cause permanent blindness and if it is internally ingested it can even cause internal burns, irreversible organ damage, and possible death.
  • Nitric Acid: Nitric acid is a colorless or yellow liquid with a caustic odor and extremely corrosive properties. This chemical is used in the manufacturing of a wide variety of products including explosives, ammunition, rocket propellant, inks & dyes, aging pine and maple wood, and commercial cleaning agents. The acid is extremely corrosive, capable of causing severe chemical burns very rapidly.
  • Hydrochloric Acid: Approximately 20 million tons of hydrochloric acid are produced globally every year, and you can even find this acid in your home. This acid is corrosive and if it comes into contact with the skin, eyes, or internal organs the damage can be irreversible or even fatal.
  • Chromic Acid Solution: An acid solution that is identified as a human carcinogen. This acid can affect your breathing and can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs causing coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
  • Formic Acid: Commonly used as a preservative and antibacterial agent in livestock feeds – this acid pesticide is a clear, colorless liquid with a strong odor. When exposure to this acid occurs, you can expect burning of the skin or eyes, as well as respiratory irritation.

To effectively combat these corrosive substances, a need for an efficient neutralization agent like FAST-ACT is high. FAST-ACT works by converting the inorganic acids to metal salts and water. Once FAST-ACT is deployed the proprietary technology works to contain and neutralize the acids to a safer pH.

Base Family

Chemical bases utilized in many acid attacks are both corrosive and can significantly damage the skin & eyes. The major forms of bases in this category include the following:

  • Potassium Hydroxide: A chemical base that is commonly found in drain and pipeline cleaners & bleaching agents. This corrosive substance can be damaging to the eyes, the skin, and the respiratory tract. Potassium Hydroxide can be absorbed into the body by inhalation – particularly when acid attacks occur.
  • Sodium Hydroxide: Sodium hydroxide is a chemical found in industrial solvents and cleaners, including drain cleaners and oven cleaners. This chemical is a strongly irritating and corrosive substance that can cause severe burns and permanent damage to any tissues that come into contact with this base.

To effectively combat these corrosive substances, a need for an efficient neutralization agent like FAST-ACT is high. FAST-ACT works by suppressing the vapor & containing the liquid with the excess FAST-ACT bringing its pH into a safe range.

Vapor Threats

Chemical & liquid threats used in many acid attacks can corrode and cause severe respiratory issues as it rapidly expands to fill the air space. The major vapor threats released in an acid attack include the following:

  • Ammonia: Ammonia is one of the most commonly produced industrial chemicals in the United States. This chemical is found in many household and industrial-strength cleaning solutions. Ammonia gas is released into the air and quickly disperses due to the fact it is lighter than air. Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in the air will cause immediate burning of the nose, throat, & respiratory tract.
  • Chlorine: Chlorine is a chemical used in industry and household cleaning products. The substance is among the ten highest volume chemicals made in the United States. Chlorine can enter the body as a result of breathing, swallowing, or skin contact with the substance. The acid is corrosive and can damage cells in the body upon contact.

To effectively combat these corrosive substances, a need for an efficient neutralization agent like FAST-ACT is high. FAST-ACT works by interacting with Chlorine to form MgCl, as well as the nitrogen in ammonia react with the metal in the FAST-ACT metal oxides and OH groups. Upon contact with FAST-ACT, chlorine will be knocked down and neutralized and ammonia will be knocked down and contained.

Toxics

Toxics found in acid attacks are compounds that impact the central nervous system upon exposure. The major toxic substances you may be exposed to during an acid attack include the following:

  • Sodium Nitrite: This compound is commonly used in the manufacturing of fertilizers and explosives. Sodium nitrite is an odorless, yellowish white chemical that when exposed can affect the respiratory system, eyes, and skin. High levels of exposure to sodium nitrite can reduce the blood’s ability to transport Oxygen, leading to headaches, dizziness, and a blue color to the skin and lips.
  • Thiofanox: Thiofanox is a colorless solid with a pungent odor, that is classified as a carbamate pesticide. This chemical is widely used in homes, gardens, and agriculture. When exposure to this pesticide occurs headaches, salivation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea can plague the exposed individual.
  • Zinc Phosphide: A dark grey solid with an odor similar to that of decaying fish. Zinc phosphide is used as a rat and mice poison that is on the Hazardous Substance List. Chronic health effects that can occur from major exposure to this substance include potential cancer and reproductive hazards, irregular heartbeat, and damage to the liver and kidneys.

To effectively combat these corrosive substances, a need for an efficient neutralization agent like FAST-ACT is high. FAST-ACT interacts with the Nitrogen, Phosphorous, or Sulfur of the compounds to break the bond with the large molecule resulting in a byproduct bound to the FAST-ACT material resulting in neutralization.

Acid Attack Neutralization Solution

Treating not only an acid attack victim but also the environment in which the acid attack took place is critical to minimize exposure to others from the abrasive & corrosive acids used in these hazardous attacks.

The first step to implement when someone has been attacked with acid is to make sure the area where the incident took place is safe and take the necessary actions to ensure the corrosive acids and substances are neutralized. The many different chemical families used in these attacks are problematic for responders because of the various mechanisms needed to address all of the present substances in the environment. First responders would have to test and determine what mechanisms to use to neutralize the substances. However, a solution like FAST-ACT can address both liquid and vapor threats from the Acid, Base, Vapor, & Toxic categories, including CWAs.

Acid Attack Neutralization

Secondly, you will want to treat the victim by dousing the burn with water for at least 20 minutes. Try to gently remove any clothing with the substance on it and call first responders ASAP for treatment.

The steady increase of acid attacks in the UK has not gone unnoticed, as plans of recourse are being strategically made in an effort to reduce this growing number of acid attacks. Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd has a plan to ban the sale of corrosive substances to those under the age of 18. However, being prepared – particularly the police in the UK, as well as other countries – with the necessary solution for acid attack neutralization is vital in helping to reduce the imminent threats present in the environment.

 

Methods of Chemical Decontamination for Chemical Spills

Top Methods of Chemical Decontamination for Chemical Spills: Pro’s vs Cons

By | chemical spill clean up, Uncategorized

Chemical spills and threats have become somewhat of a common occurrence in recent news with more and more incidents arising outside of the normal parameters of the typical chemical environment such as laboratories or chemical plant. Recently, chemical spills have happened with large semi-trucks filled with a “toxic” chemicals that have been releasing these chemicals onto the roadways – leaving a large decontamination job for HAZMAT to clean up and a huge risk factor to many civilians who could be potentially exposed. Each and every chemical decontamination will vary depending on the chemical spill at hand, making it difficult to deploy one specific guide for every chemical decontamination that is performed. However, what if there was a one-stop-shop chemical decontamination procedure you can take with almost every chemical spill? Below we are going to compare the main types of chemical decontamination for chemical spills and the benefits and cons of each to conclude the overall best process to utilize for future chemical spills & decon.

What is Decontamination

Decontamination is the process of removing or neutralizing materials that have come into contact with or on personnel or equipment during a spill. Decontamination is set in place to minimize exposure and protect workers from the potentially hazardous substances. The first priority of the decontamination process is to avoid contact with the material or substance at all costs and establish a decontamination zone to block off to other people. Then, depending on the type of chemical spill present you will need to conclude the best type of decontamination procedure to implement.

The most important and most effective decontamination of any chemical exposure is that decontamination is done within the first minute or two after exposure to the chemical agent. There are many different problems associated with potential decontaminants such as irritation of the skin, toxicity, ineffectiveness, or even high costs. The ideal decontamination will be rapid and completely neutralize all chemical agents.

Who Utilizes Chemical Decontamination Procedures

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) decontamination is the removal of CBRN material from equipment or humans. The military, first responders such as the fire and police departments, and HAZMAT teams are all trained and ready to deploy decontamination procedures quickly and effectively when need be. Chemical incidents can arise from an array of chemical accidents, human error, or a deliberate chemical attack, no matter what the circumstance before you are, being prepared with a set of decontamination procedures is critical.

Hazmat Decontamination Procedures

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a hazmat response team is an “organized group of trained personnel operating under an emergency response plan and appropriate standard operating procedures who handle and control actual or potential leaks and spills of hazardous materials”. Most Hazmat teams believe water is good, soap and water are better, and chlorine bleach solutions are best when dealing with either a chemical or biological agent. Chlorine bleach is a widely used method for decontamination, however, chlorine bleach is quite potent and can cause severe damage to the skin and even blindness if contact occurs in your eyes.

Different Methods of Chemical Decontamination

Different Methods of Chemical Decontamination

Chemical spills can be found in various forms from gas, liquid, solid, fumes, dust, fibers, or vapors. When any of these types of spills happen various methods of decontamination can be deployed including acid and base neutralizers, all-purpose absorbents, oil only absorbents, hazardous liquid absorbents, spill kits, decontaminating foams, and spill containment and material handling products. The list of different decontamination methods can vary in effectiveness, procedures, and implementation.

Solid Commercial Neutralization

This method of chemical decontamination is used to treat only one type of chemical hazard. Therefore, a pre-treatment hazard identification is mandatory. Solid commercial neutralizers are used to treat only liquid hazards & can generate a significant level of heat that have the potential to become hazardous – and with excess of the neutralizer, a possibly corrosive situation is created.

Spill Kits

Chemical spill kits are a popular decon solution, particularly for laboratories and factories. However, chemical spill kits have many disadvantages including the time required to complete the decontamination process and the knowledge of the chemical present along with the ideal solution needed to neutralize the agent. Spill kits have separate products for acids, caustics, and solvents, and thus identification is required before treatment. And if the kit is applied improperly a dangerous product could form. Also, this method of decontamination is only applicable for liquid spills and cannot treat vapor hazards. If you are trying to neutralize Chemical Warfare Agents (CWAs) and organic hazards, a spill kit will not be an effective decontamination method to implement.

Chemical Spill kitUniversal Neutralizer

Universal Neutralizing Sorbent is an effective decontamination method to clean up battery acids and bases, even hydrofluoric acid. This decon method can be applied to contain a liquid spill but is not effective towards the destruction of CWAs or any organic hazards – as well as vapor release decontamination.

Sorbent Based Decontamination Products

Sorbent based decontamination products were designed to be effective against chemical warfare agents such as Soman, Mustard, VX, etc. However, this decontamination method is not effective at neutralizing and eliminating most toxic industrial chemicals. Also, sorbent based decon products are only effective at liquid spills and not vapor releases.

Liquid Decontamination Products

The majority of liquid decontamination products such as bleach or DS2 are corrosive products – and these liquid decontaminants are primarily used to treat Chemical Warfare Agents. Liquid decon products cannot be used on metals such as potassium or sodium and they are not effective against a wide range of toxic industrial chemicals. Most liquid decontamination products are water based and cannot be used at sub-zero temperatures – and most importantly, this decon method does not treat vapor releases in the environment.

Foams

Decontamination foam is a spray-on cleaning solution that has a longer residence time on contaminated surfaces than regular liquids. This decon method is essentially water and a surfactant that creates an aqueous film forming foam that various reactive chemicals are then added to, resulting in the reduction of contaminants on the surface. Decontaminating foams are designed to treat chemical and/or biological warfare agents. This decon method has a large logistical burden due to water and ancillary equipment requirements as well as a need for premixing. Since decon foam is water based, they cannot be used in below freezing temperatures.

FAST-ACT (First Applied Sorbent Treatment – Against Chemical Threats)

Liquid & Vapor Chemical DecontaminationFAST-ACT is a proprietary formulation of non-toxic nano materials that are effective at neutralizing a wide range of toxic chemicals with the added capability to destroy chemical warfare agents. This decon method is effective against a wide range of toxic chemicals including acids, halogenated compounds, phosphorous compounds, acidic and caustic gases, organic compounds, and chemical warfare agents. FAST-ACT is offered in pressurized cylinders capable of addressing both liquid and vapor hazards as well as manually dispersed containers for liquid hazard treatment. This decon method is effective against a broad range of chemical hazards and eliminates the need for multiple products, making FAST-ACT a one-stop-shop for any chemical decontamination.

With FAST-ACT, containment and/or neutralization efficacy greater than 95% is achieved for most toxic chemicals within 2 minutes. Within 90 seconds over 99.6% (detection limit) of warfare agent is removed from surfaces. In 10 minutes 99% of GD and over 99.9% of VX is destroyed. After 60 minutes 70-80% of HD is neutralized.

*No Training is Required to Deploy FAST-ACT

Chemical decontamination is vital for rapid and effective neutralization of hazardous chemical spills and releases. Decontamination is time consuming and requires resources to accomplish complete elimination, therefore being well-versed in the different chemical decon methods and their effectiveness can aid in the ideal decon selection for the most complete chemical spill decontamination.

Carfentanil exposure

Carfentanil Exposure: Everything to Know About the Elephant Tranquilizer Drug

By | Uncategorized

The synthetic opioid crisis has catapulted in recent years with the expansion of opioids and their effects on human health significantly magnified. Synthetic opioids are man-made drugs that replicate the effects of a natural opioid. These engineered opioids are designed to reduce pain and create a euphoric reaction, thus their appeal to drug abusers. As the opioid crisis has expanded, the list and dangers have both grown, with new and extremely hazardous synthetic opioids such as carfentanil being used in the illicit drug market.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is under a massive opioid crisis that is sweeping the nation. This horrible epidemic of synthetic opioid drug abuse has killed an estimated 42,000 people in 2016. The dangers are not limited to drug users, however. Health workers and emergency responders are also at risk of exposure to these hazardous synthetic opioids found on the job. The DEA has even placed public wide warnings on the health and safety risks of carfentanil and exposure to carfentanil as this synthetic opioid is known to be extremely hazardous to public health and those exposed to the opioid on the job.

What is Carfentanil & It’s EffectsWhat is Carfentanil & It’s Effects

Carfentanil is an extremely powerful analog of fentanyl, that contains the potency of fentanyl magnified by 100. Due to its extreme strength and level of danger, carfentanil is not approved for use in humans in any form. One of the main uses of carfentanil is to act as an elephant tranquilizing drug.

Fun fact: An elephant weighs close to 15,000-pounds, an estimated 75 times that of a 200-pound adult male. To tranquilize an elephant, it will only require a small dose of 10 mg of carfentanil to complete this task.

Carfentanil was first synthesized by Janssen Pharmaceutical’s team of chemist in 1974. It has since become incorporated into the synthetic opioid drug market for illicit drug use. Carfentanil has more recently been found in cutting heroin and even in fentanyl sold illicitly. Law enforcement and emergency responders have warned that illicitly produced and sold carfentanil looks similar to other drugs found on the street such as cocaine and heroin, due to its white, odorless appearance.

Carfentanil Effects to Humans

Fentanyl and its analogs – carfentanil – can enter into the body through a multitude of entries including inhalation, ingestion, or intravenous or intramuscular injection. Upon exposure to carfentanil through any of these passageways, the human body and the brain will begin experiencing immediate effects. Carfentanil instantly binds to opioid receptors in your brain, which will begin overtaking the neural chemistry, thus leading to overdose symptoms not far after. This synthetic opioid will also impact receptors that control breathing, which is why this synthetic opioid is typically associated with irregular breathing. Included in the list of effects and symptoms created by carfentanil include:

  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Stomach problems
  • Confusion
  • Respiratory issues
  • Slowed depressed breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Sedation
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Clammy skin

What’s the Difference Between Fentanyl and Carfentanil

Determining the differences between the synthetic opioids fentanyl and carfentanil can be challenging to determine to the illicit drug user and even for first responders and hazmat. The key characteristics of each of these synthetic opioids includes the following:

Potency:

The differences between fentanyl and carfentanil for one, is the potency of both. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that fentanyl is similar to morphine but is about 50 to 100 times stronger than that of morphine. Whereas carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times stronger than morphine.

Appearance:

Fentanyl is often formed as a powder – usually white in color – and can often be combined with other illicit drugs including heroin, cocaine, and crack. Recently, fentanyl is being constructed to look like pills such as prescription pills (OxyContin and Percocet). Carfentanil looks very similar to that of fentanyl – as it too is a white powdery substance that looks like cocaine or heroin.

Risk Level: 

Fentanyl, specifically illicit fentanyl is a much more hazardous compound than everyday pharmaceutical opioids. Detecting fentanyl can be difficult due to the fact that this synthetic opioid is often hard to see, smell, or even taste! Thus, the hazard is extremely heightened as your senses are unoptimizable in conjunction with this opioid. Carfentanil, on the other hand, contains extreme levels of risk, even more so than fentanyl! It only requires a very small dosage of carfentanil – the size of a grain of salt – is enough to kill a human.

What’s the Difference Between Fentanyl and Carfentanil

Synthetic Opioids Potency Hazards to Humans

Synthetic opioids have gained an increased demand as illicit drug users have turned to this less expensive alternative. The increased use of synthetic opioids can be associated with a sharp rise in overdoses and deaths in the United States. Not to mention synthetic opioids present a heightened risk to emergency workers and first responders. Responders are more likely to encounter illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids when on calls and therefore the risk to their health from exposure is severe. Exposure to some hazardous synthetic opioids can result in rapid onset of potentially life-threatening respiratory depression. As the risks have increased, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has amped up their protocols in an effort to protect our first responders from the hazards presented by synthetic opioids.

Hazmat and First Responders Carfentanil Protection

Fentanyl and carfentanil are on the rise, and with more and more clandestine laboratories producing these synthetic opioids and the overall increase in the distribution of these opioids, the need for protocol to first responders and hazmat is almost required. The DEA has outlined an extensive guide on how a first responder should handle a situation involving synthetic opioids and what protective equipment is necessary in this circumstance. The equipment necessary for first responders and hazmat include the following:

  • Naloxone (Narcan): Naloxone is an antidote specifically designed for opioid overdoses, including fentanyl and its analogues – such as carfentanil. If someone is experiencing a synthetic opioid overdose, by properly administering this antidote it can restore normal breathing and consciousness in the individual. Depending on the synthetic opioid (fentanyl, carfentanil) several doses of Narcan will need to be administered – usually every 2 to 3 minutes until breathing is restored. First responders should be supplied with this antidote on all occasions.
  • Nitrile Gloves: Nitrile gloves are the appropriate protection to wear on your hands when handling and sampling any suspected drugs including fentanyl and other potent synthetic opioids. Having sets of nitrile gloves “on hand” during crime scene investigating is critical, particularly dark colored gloves that show white powder residue left behind from fentanyl and carfentanil.
  • Respiratory Protection: Respiratory protection with an air-purifying respirator is needed on hand for first responders and hazmat workers. Air-respirators come in different variations including half and full-face protection. Synthetic opioids can become airborne and inhaled through nose, mouth, and skin leading to potential overdose and even death. Therefore, having an effective air-purifying respirator to neutralize synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil is very important for first responder’s health.
  • Decontamination Gear: Decontamination of carfentanil is no easy feat, as the potency is so magnified that a stronger solution is necessary for complete decontamination of carfentanil. Carfentanil is in the same chemical family as fentanyl but contains a more complex chemistry. Additionally, carfentanil contains an extra carboxyl group and this makes this synthetic opioid more vulnerable to react with the metal oxides of FAST-ACT. FAST-ACT offers a level protection that has never been seen before. This decontamination line utilizes a patented earth mineral technology that is highly reactive against a broad spectrum of chemicals including chemical warfare agents. Once the FAST-ACT products are released/ applied, the threat level will immediately be reduced.

Carfentanil and other fentanyl analogues can have a significant impact on health of illicit drug users and emergency/first responders who come into contact with this elephant tranquilizer drug. By carefully preparing for exposure to these synthetic opioids and having proper protocol to follow can help to ensure the limitation of incidents occurring to our first responders on the scene of crimes involving these synthetic opioids.

Complete Guide on Fentanyl for First Responders

Complete Guide on Fentanyl for First Responders

By | Uncategorized

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, law enforcement in the United States has seen a significant increase in the overall availability of dangerous synthetic opioids. A large majority of these synthetic opioids are structural derivatives of the synthetic drug ‘Fentanyl’. Fentanyl is a known synthetic opioid that is listed as a Schedule II prescription drug that simulates the same effects as the drug Morphine in the body. However, fentanyl in comparison to morphine has a potency that is 50-100 times more than morphine. Fentanyl in a clinical or hospital environment is commonly used to relieve severe pain, such as for post-surgery or pain management for cancer. However, the drug Fentanyl has progressively been transformed into a ‘street’ drug that is sometimes mixed with heroin known by the names China Girl, China White, and Goodfella, among others, and can produce hazardous environments and deadly symptoms to those exposed.

The BC Coroners Service for Fentanyl detected deaths in British Columbia alone, every year, in up till April 30, 2017, to determine the steady increase in deaths caused by the Fentanyl drug. In British Columbia, there were an estimated 50 deaths from Fentanyl in 2013 compared to 654 deaths in 2016. And as time progresses the hazard presented by this drug is exacerbated by the threat posed to even our first responders who unknowingly enter into contaminated areas where fentanyl may be present. Fentanyl can be ingested orally, inhaled through the nose or mouth, or absorbed through the skin or eyes, and can be extremely toxic even in trace amounts which could potentially lead to health-related complications, respiratory depression, or death.

History of FentanylThe History of Fentanyl

Fentanyl was first created in 1959 by a Belgian chemist. The drug was later marketed as an intravenous analgesic drug that was called Sublimaze. This synthetic opioid was first utilized in pharmaceutical facilities to provide opioid pain management including a transdermal patch, flavored lollipops, sublingual/effervescent tabs, and nasal spray. The transformation of this drug from a pharmaceutical pain management opioid to an illegal street drug began in the 1990’s as the first discovery of what is believed to be the first domestically produced illegal fentanyl in the United States. The level of hazard contained in street drugs that are composed of fentanyl is grave, with past street drugs such as “Tango and Cash”, a brand of street heroin manufactured in 1991 that contained approximately 12 percent fentanyl produced over 126 overdose deaths in total. And as years have progressed the level of danger has increased tenfold, with over 1,013 fentanyl-related deaths between 2005 and 2007, which were attributed to the lethal combination of heroin and fentanyl, and 9,580 overdose deaths in 2015 from synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

The heroin-fentanyl epidemic has led to the creation of the DEA’s Heroin-Fentanyl Task Force (HFTF). This organization consists of several government agencies that are working together to tackle the nationwide fentanyl and synthetic opioid issue. Currently, this organization (HFTF) consists of personnel from the DEA, HSI, CBP, FBI, USPIS, and IRS in the pursuit to eradicate this growing hazard to the environment and human health.

Understanding the Different Forms of Fentanyl-Related Substances

Fentanyl first began as a prescribed replacement for morphine used in both human and veterinary medicine. This drug acts as an anesthetic during surgery, to help alleviate pain after surgery, and to treat overall severe pain. Fentanyl is also used in situations where patients are physically intolerant of other painkillers.

Illegal forms of fentanyl have been long associated with heroin, as it can act as a replacement for heroin, and even be used in the manufacturing of fake pharmaceutical pills such as those of oxycodone, hydrocodone, and alprazolam. Fentanyl and other substances with fentanyl contain a higher strength than that of morphine, however, the effects can significantly vary depending on the potency and the purity of the illegal synthetic opioid.

Carfentanil vs Fentanyl

Although fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine and even 30-50 times stronger than heroin, it is no match to its similarly structured Carfentanil. Carfentanil is up to 10,000 times more potent than morphine and should be treated with extreme caution, as exposure to a small amount could be lethal and lead to significant health-related complications, or death.

Carfentanil is in the same chemical family as fentanyl, but more complex with an additional carboxyl group and an additional carbonyl group. This compound is reportedly 100 times stronger than the same amount of fentanyl and is classified as a weapon of mass destruction. Those who come into contact with this chemical should exercise extreme caution, especially those first responders who are handling chemicals that could potentially be harmful such as carfentanil.

PPEFentanyl Hazards to First Responders

The DEA concluded based on their 1st quarter of 2017, that there were 230 identifications of fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances from seized drug evidence. Fentanyl accounted for 58 percent of the found drugs from the DEA. Therefore, the level of hazard present to first responders is extremely high. Fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances are constructed to be absorbed into the body through any means, including injection, ingestion, and from contact through the skin, thus the accidental exposure to first responders is a real danger. Accidents and accidental exposure can happen from a number of encounters such as search and arrest warrants, undercover purchasing, obtaining drug evidence, or seizures of clandestine labs.

Exposure Risks & Treatment

Exposure to fentanyl can be highly dangerous, as it can lead to serious negative health effects, respiratory depression, and even death. Even police dogs (k9’s) are at risk of serious health effects from fentanyl exposure. However, with proper training and equipment, you can shield yourself from exposure to this potentially toxic chemical substance. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a necessary protection for all first responders to have on them, no matter the situation. There are four levels of PPE including personal PPE, Level C PPE, Level B PPE, and Level A PPE.

When there is a gross fentanyl contamination, meaning the risk of exposure is high, level “A” PPE should be used. Level “A” PPE is routinely used by the DEA in situations involving fentanyl. Those first responders who could potentially encounter fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances should keep an individual PPE kit that includes nitrile gloves, N-95 dust mask, eye protection, paper coveralls, and Naloxone injectors. Law enforcement officials and first responders who come into contact with this drug have safety precautions in place to avoid hazards. But if someone does come into contact with this fatal drug, having Naloxone to administer is critical. Naloxone is an antidote for opioid overdose and administering naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose.

How to Detect Fentanyl

When first responders enter any environment, they must look for tell-tale detection signs of fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances in the area. The detection signs of fentanyl include the following:

  1. Any victims that are bluish in color, Cyanosis. This could include skin or lips and is an indicator of a fentanyl overdose.
  2. Mail or shipments in the area address from China could also indicate fentanyl. Many China-based organizations ship fentanyl substances to the U.S. as they are a big manufacturer of this drug.
  3. Lastly, first responders should consider the “Fentanyl Footprint” in the area. Fentanyl footprint is clusters of overdoses and overdose deaths that have occurred within a small area that is related to the substance.

Decontamination of Fentanyl & Fentanyl-Related Substances

Decontamination is the process used to make an individual and their equipment safe by physically removing toxic substances quickly and effectively. Due to the high volatility of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances an extreme level of caution must be implemented in the decontamination of these substances. The first step of decontamination is to wear appropriate protective clothing PPE to help avoid contact with chemicals. The most important step in decontamination is the neutralization of the chemical compound released. Depending on the chemical, a different solution may need to be implemented to destroy the chemical. However, the level of danger will become heightened the longer the chemical is present in the environment, therefore you want a universal solution that can be implemented on any chemical to effectively neutralize the toxic substance.

FAST-ACT utilizes a patented technology that effectively neutralizes a broad spectrum of chemicals including chemical warfare agents, fentanyl, and even the toxic carfentanil. FAST-ACT works quickly to significantly reduce the hazards presented by chemicals. By the nature of FAST-ACT’s innovative chemistry, hazards are chemically bound to the surface of the powder minimizing off-gassing. Best of all, FAST-ACT can be safely applied to any liquid spill or vapor release enabling Emergency Responder to utilize one technology when faced with a wide variety of known and unknown chemical hazards. Learn more about how to use FAST-ACT to decontaminate fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances and how FAST-ACT can aid in minimizing the hazards presented to first responders by the chemical Fentanyl.

Personal Protection Safety Gear: Gas Mask vs Respirator Mask

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

Are you prepared with personal protection gear in the event that your safety is compromised? Safety is of the utmost importance, whether you are a concerned parent who fears for your child’s safety, work in a field that has you exposed to hazardous chemicals, or even if you are just a concerned human that wants to have the proper safety gear within arm’s reach in the event that it becomes critical to your health. Personal protective equipment can include protective clothing and ensembles, eye safety, and most importantly air respirators. When hazardous chemicals are released into your environment, the chemicals can enter into your body through your skin, eyes, or through inhalation, and therefore having protection from these toxic chemicals with personal protection safety gear has become a direr need for all. Chemicals have the ability to spread rapidly and aggressively throughout the exposed environment, and inhalation can be the area with the most exposure for humans. In recent years, gas masks have been the ultimate protective solution for any chemical or gas release in the environment, however, could there be an alternative solution that can more effectively guard you against chemical exposure? Many people have begun to prepare themselves with protective air respirator masks as a form of chemical protection for their air, rather than using gas masks, but is an air respirator mask better than a gas mask?

why do people wear gas masksPersonal Protection Preparedness: Why Do People Wear Gas Masks?

Disasters, attacks, or even a chemical spill can happen unexpectantly, and sometimes in the blink of an eye. Preparation for these unwanted and alarming situations can be critical, and in many cases having the proper preparations and protective safety gear in place can significantly minimize the risks and hazards presented in the environment no matter the situation at hand. For many people who work in an environment that has the potential for chemical releases or exposure such as in a lab or plant, they will be provided with the necessary personal protective equipment as an OSHA standard, but if you are more concerned about the imminent threat of chemical exposure in your every day, you may want to collect these safety gear to have on hand in the rare case that it is required to protect your health. The area in which most people are concerned with is air protection following a chemical release, spill, or attack. The average adult inhales and exhales close to 7 or 8 liters of air per minute, a total of 11,000 liters of air in a day. Therefore, when the air in your environment has become tainted with chemicals the inherent risk of breathing in a substantial level of chemicals is significantly high. Many people will turn to gas masks as a form of protection for chemical contamination in their air. Gas masks have long been the solution for chemical protection for hazardous air in the environment, dating back as far as World War I. And if a gas mask has been used for that long, how could it not be the best choice for protection against toxic contaminants in the air?

Benefits of Wearing Mask for Protection

Air pollutants and chemicals that find their way into the environment can have a significant impact on your overall health, especially when toxic chemicals such as chemical warfare agents have invaded your air. If this occurs in your environment a mask to protect yourself could be immensely beneficial.

Depending on the chemical released in the environment the health risks of exposure could vary. Chemical exposure health risks are contingent on the type of chemical present, the amount of the chemical, the length of exposure, and the age and health of the person exposed. The potential health effects that can occur from exposure to chemicals include:

  • Organ damage
  • A weakening of the immune system
  • Reproductive problems and birth defects
  • Effects on the mental cognitive or physical development of children
  • Cancer

A protective face mask will aid in the reduction of possible exposure symptoms, thus a key benefit of utilizing a face mask. Also, face masks will filter out the small particulate matter in the air that can cause severe symptoms, this particulate matter can be a result of a fire, explosion, or even from the residue of a chemical release.

Gas Mask vs Respirator Mask

Gas masks are a protective mask used to cover a person’s face as a defense against poisonous or hazardous gases and chemicals. This type of mask will cover your face almost completely and includes a face piece or mask, along with a filter or cartridge device. Most gas masks utilize activated carbon or charcoal as a filtering technology, however, charcoal only removes certain chemicals and once the charcoal is full it will begin re-releasing the captured chemicals. Thus, gas masks are effective only if used with the correct cartridge or filter for chemical substance and it also requires more replacements for the filter, so the time for effectiveness per filter is hard to determine, especially when exposed to a hazardous environment.

A respirator, on the other hand, is usually only effective at protecting against particles. These types of masks usually do not protect against chemicals, gases, or vapors and are really intended for low hazard levels. Particulate respirators are categorized as “air-purifying respirators” because they clean particles out of the air as you breathe, which is great, but for chemical protection, respirators tend to fall short. However, what if there was a respirator that was both effective at particulate removal and chemical/gas neutralization? The FAST-ACT VapourKlenz Face Mask utilizes a proprietary technology that is highly reactive against a broad spectrum of chemicals and noxious odors including chemical warfare agents, as well as particulate removal. This mask is lightweight and can easily be carried around for immediate use, which is critical in preparedness for chemical exposure.

Why Buy a Gas Mask?

Buying a gas mask has its perks but it also has its downfalls as well. Gas masks offer protection from chemicals and gases in the environment. However, you need to be aware that not all gas masks are the same. Not all gas masks and filters are effective against chemical warfare and riot control agents. Without protection from these agents, the job of the gas mask is greatly reduced, and almost entirely useless. Thus, it is important to ensure the filter that accompanies the masks is effective at protecting against nuclear and chemical threats. Also, size and fit are critical. Many gas masks will fit differently which can significantly impact filtration of the hazardous chemical agents in the air.

Filter life on your gas mask can also become a major issue present when using it in a hazardous environment. Most gas mask filters need to be replaced within hours of initial use, which is not conducive when presented with a hazardous environment. Lastly, in the event of a chemical attack, release, or spill it is almost always too late when you get your gas mask on. Gas masks are not easily transported or carried every day, which results in a delay in getting the protection on when you need it. This can severely impact your health and can lead to high levels of exposure.

Why Buy a Chemical Respirator Mask?

Chemical respirator masks can offer a vast amount of benefits compared to gas masks for protection against chemicals and particulates. Firstly, unlike gas masks, chemical respirator masks offer protection without full face coverage. Chemical respirator masks go over the ears and will cover your nose and mouth for inhalation protection. Although this does not offer eye protection, it is for many people, a better option as it does not invoke claustrophobia in people who are claustrophobic. All you need with this chemical respirator mask is a pair of protective goggles and your face will be protected.

Also, chemical respirator masks, specifically the FAST-ACT VapourKlenz Face Mask is a broad spectrum chemical neutralization filter that is able to neutralize a vast amount of chemicals that come into contact with the filter. Gas masks only work against certain chemicals; therefore, a chemical respirator mask can offer more protection against chemicals. The filter life on a chemical respirator mask can also have a longer lifespan than that of a gas mask. Gas masks that use carbon technology filtration can fill up within hours after exposure to a toxic environment, whereas a chemical respirator mask, FAST-ACT VapourKlenz Face Mask, will last up to 3 months in hazardous conditions. Lastly, a chemical respirator mask offers more accessibility as the lightweight mask can be easily carried wherever you go, allowing you to be prepared to place the protective gear on as soon as chemicals are exposed into your environment.

Personal protection safety gear should be a concern for every and all individuals that want to protect themselves and the ones they love in the case of an emergency situation like a chemical attack or spill. Having the proper protective safety gear such as a chemical respirator mask will aid you in minimizing exposure and protecting your overall health.

Helping Protect Civilians From Chemical Threats

By | Uncategorized

Protect Civilians From Chemical ThreatsWorld events have forced the Emergency Response Community to take a closer look at the number of potential hazards that they may be called upon to deal with. Of particular concern is the response to chemical incidents in civilian areas. Depending on the specifics of the event, responders may be faced with a myriad of challenges.

With a chemical release in general, toxic chemicals will continue to pose a danger as long as they persist. The goal of responding to such a situation should be to immediately get the public cleared and treat the hazard to minimize the risk to the general public and emergency personnel present.

Responding to such an event typically requires identification of the agent, evacuation of exposed individuals, and mass decontamination lines to be set up in the shortest period of time possible. All of these measures are designed to limit the number of casualties from such an event. To ensure that such a situation will be handled correctly, responders nationwide often conduct drills and training exercises simulating chemical attacks or events.

decontaminate chemical warfare agentsThe range of equipment being required to ensure the safety of not only the responder but also the general public is increasing. Personal protective equipment and sensor technologies have arisen to meet the challenges presented by a dirty bomb and chemical agent attacks. Utilizing existing products, military personnel can respond to a potential release, identify the agent, and ensure their individual safety, but what about the public? What types of technologies are available to immediate neutralize these toxic chemicals?

For a long time, the release of chemical warfare agents was strictly a concern for military officials. Over the last two decades, the use of these agents or other toxic chemicals in a terrorist attack has now become a realistic threat which civilian responders such as police, fire, and HAZMAT must now be prepared to address whether it be a release in a subway, at a mall, or other public venues.

FAST-ACT® enables users to immediately respond to toxic chemical releases. Whether it is a subway, an airport or in an industry, FAST-ACT ensures an immediate response to eliminate the hazard and minimize exposure. The system has been proven to quickly contain and destroy chemical warfare agents and a wide range of toxic chemicals to ensure any situation can be contained quickly and effectively.

The product is capable of treating frequently encountered liquid spills and vapor releases while offering protection in the event of a chemical warfare agent release. It is non-corrosive, non-flammable and highly effective over a wide range of environmental conditions including below-freezing temperatures. This family of produchemical warfare decontaminationcts has expanded utility for law enforcement, industrial, laboratory and public protection applications.

This product allows the Emergency Responder Community a line of protection against a wide range of toxic chemicals for themselves and the public. The delivery systems ensure the product is immediately deployable, simple to use, and capable of neutralizing a wide range of toxic chemicals fast.