Army Creates Ultra-strength Decontaminants

ABERDEEN, Md., April 28 (UPI) — U.S. chemists and military scientists say they have created a group of ultra-strength cleaners designed for use in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

The researchers led by George Wagner at the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Maryland said the cleaners are tough enough to neutralize nerve gas, mustard gas, radioactive isotopes and anthrax. But Wagner said the cleaners are also non-toxic, based on ingredients found in foods, cosmetics and other consumer products.

The scientists charged with developing the new decontaminant said they were initially faced with several problems in that chlorine- or lye-based decontamination agents are potentially hazardous and can react with chemical weapons and materials in the environment to form new toxic substances. So if the military needed to decontaminate a large area, the runoff from such chemicals could harm people and the environment.

To solve the problem the researchers said they created the Decon Green suite of decontamination agents, all of which use peroxides as their main ingredient. Peroxides are the same substances contained in many household cleaners and whitening toothpaste.

To bolster their effectiveness, the scientists said they mix the peroxides with bicarbonates or other non-toxic bases to produce peroxyanions — highly reactive ions that can clean just about anything.

That, said the researchers, ensures chemical weapons, such as nerve gas, will completely break down.

A detailed evaluation of the cleansers appears in the journal Industrial Engineering and Chemistry Research.

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