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Showing posts with label Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE). Show all posts

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CBRNE Threat - Blood Agents

This is another post in a continuing series on Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Threats.

A blood agent is a chemical agent, very toxic to the body, that gets into the blood stream through breathing (inhalation or swallowing (ingestion). They are very fast-acting, lethal poisons (in the proper amount) that can be a gas with a very light smell.

The military chemical blood agent are used as aerosols and as such become effective through breathing in the poison. They are much more effective in confined areas rather than large open areas where the previaling winds and effect or disapte their lethality.

Blood agents are usually Cyanide based compounds that occur in small amounts in the natural environment and in cigarette smoke. They are also prevalent in pesticides and some manufacturing. Cyanide gas is often the cause of death in fires as it is given off when certain materials burn such some plastics and other comon household material such as drapes.

The symptoms that appear from blood agent poisoning depend on the level of concentration and duration of exposure.

Cyanide-based blood agents irritate the eyes and the respiratory tract, while the other less common blood agent, Arsine, is basically non-irritating. The Hydrogen cyanide version has a very faint, bitter, almond type smell. Arsine has a very light garlic like odor that is only detectable at very high levels with wold be lethal.

Exposure to small amounts of cyanide has no effect - remember the cigarette smoke - except for long term exposure and then only linked to degenerative diseaes like cancers. Higher short term exposures at higher concentrations cause dizziness, weakness and possibly nausea, which usually cease when removed from the area.

Long duration - long term exposure can cause permanent brain damage and muscle paralysis. Moderate exposure causes stronger and longer-lasting symptoms, including headaches, sometimes followed by seizures, convulsions then death. Very heavy concentrations will cause severe lethal effects within seconds.

One way to tell if blood agent poisoning has occured on dead people is that their blood will appear very bright.

Cyanide poisoning can be detected by the smell of bitter almonds, or respiratory tract inflammation in the case of cyanogen chloride poisoning although it will be hard in a survival situation to determine this. There is really no way outside of a laboratory to determine arsine gas poisoning, but it may leave a garlic smell on the victim's breath.

At sufficient levels of concentration, blood agents can quickly infuse the blood and cause death in a matter of minutes or seconds. They cause powerful gasping for breath, as the agent denies the body the use of oxygen in the blood. Violent seizure type convulsions and a painful death that can take several minutes. The immediate cause of death is usually respiratory failure.

Detection methods for Chemical agents do exist for hydrogen cyanide in the form of test strips, like the military M8 type paper. Ordinary clothing, particular vinyl rain suits, gloves and protective masks provides some protection, but military grade protective over garments would be recommended. Mask filters containing only charcoal are ineffective, and effective filters are quickly clogged.

Due to their high volatility, cyanide agents generally need no decontamination. In enclosed areas, fire extinguishers spraying sodium carbonate can decontaminate hydrogen cyanide, but the resulting metal salts remain poisonous on contact. Liquid hydrogen cyanide can be flushed with water.

There are some antidotes for Cyanide poisoning but these are mostly beyond the grasp of Urban Survivalists.

Carbon monoxide could technically be called a blood agent because it inhibits the use of oxygen in the blood by contracting with the with the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Urban Survival - CBRNE Threat: VX Nerve Agent

I see alot of back and forth on the internet assessing the probability of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) events being the catalyst for a collapse. I assess this is less likely than either a gradual or dynamic economic collapse, but still possible. possess very basic knowledge in this area and feels that Urban Survivalists can take some steps to protect against some of the likely agents, be it military grade weapons or some type of commercial contaminant, however the required technology, equipment, and expertise to be exceptional prepared and protected is far outside the scope of most Survivalists.

It is always prudent to have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as protective (gas) masks, extra filters, protective suits, gloves, and decontamination material, such as bleach on hand. The ability to seal the air input into your home or residence may be crucial as well.

Over the next few weeks and months, we will post some information on CBRNE Threats, particularly chemical and biological threats.

VX Nerve Agent

First symptoms of exposure (skin contact) may be muscular twitching or sweating at the area of exposure followed by nausea or vomiting. Some of the early symptoms of a VX vapor exposure a runny nose, tightness in the chest with shortness of breath, and pinpoint pupils.

Treatment would include first removal of the liquid agent from the skin before moving the person out of the contaminated area. Begin decontamination by washing the contaminated areas with household bleach and flushing with clean water. After decontamination, the contaminated clothing is removed and skin contamination washed away.

An individual who has received a known nerve-agent exposure or who exhibits definite signs or symptoms of nerve-agent exposure should immediately have the nerve agent antidote drugs atropine, pralidoxime (2-PAM), and diazepam injected. In several nations the nerve agent antidotes are issued for military personnel in the form of an auto-injector such as the United States military Mark I auto-injector.