2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 15 Nov 2002 15:29:50 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Researchers discover that concrete degrades VX and can predict rate
Contact: Deborah Hill
DOE/Idaho National E & E Laboratory

INEEL researchers discover that concrete degrades nerve agent and can
predict rate of decay

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and
Environmental Laboratory can detect the nerve agent VX on concrete
surfaces using a unique chemical detection instrument. Scientific
research into how quickly a nerve agent decays has the potential both to
help counter terrorist threats and to support ongoing studies in
environmental restoration.

What's more, researchers can now predict how quickly VX decays when it
is sprayed on concrete. VX attacks the body's nervous system by
interfering with the normal transmission of chemicals that help control
nerves, muscles and glands.

Through funding from the U.S. Army and the Department of Energy, INEEL
researchers are supporting environmental restoration and national
security activities by designing new instruments that can identify
chemicals quickly and accurately. INEEL specializes in analyzing
chemicals on the surfaces of common materials such as soils and plants.

Using a prototype IT-SIMS (ion trap secondary mass spectrometer),
researchers discovered that the chemical makeup of concrete reacts with
VX and causes it to break down. How quickly the chemical weapon
decomposes depends on the temperature of the environment-the hotter the
better. Determining the relationship between VX degradation on concrete
and ambient temperature is a significant advance. Such information could
help governments make better decisions about how to protect their people
in the event of a VX attack. A cover article featuring this research
appears on the Nov, 15, 2002, Environmental Science and Technology

VX is easily absorbed through skin and eyes, and exposure to a tiny
fraction of a gram can be lethal. It's important to be able to detect
traces of the chemical on concrete, and to understand how long it will
hang around, because concrete is so common. Although VX has been banned
for use through the Chemical Weapons Convention, and most countries are
destroying their stock of the chemical, it remains of interest because
of possible use by terrorist groups.

This article can be viewed at:

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