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CBRN Readiness, Dirty Bomb Drones, Field Identification of Ricin

Topics in this issue of CBRNE Particles include CBRN readiness training, immunoassays for field identification of ricin, and dirty bomb drones.

In This Article


‘France Will Strike’ If Proven Chemical Bombs Used in Syria: Macron

President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that “France will strike” if chemical weapons are used against civilians in the Syrian conflict in violation of international treaties, but that he had not yet seen proof this was the case. In recent weeks, rescue workers, aid groups and the United States have accused Syria of repeatedly using chlorine gas, which it possesses legally for uses such as water purification, as a chemical weapon against civilians in Ghouta and Idlib. Reuters >>

Strengthening the Ban on Chemical Weapons: The Case of Syria

Russia has criticized the French initiative as a ‘restricted format meeting’ from which it was excluded and which ‘attempts to replace the OPCW and to create an anti-Damascus bloc through the proliferation of lies’. However, Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, has stated that investigations into allegations of CW use in Syria continue, and if they ‘conclude that there has been the use, or likely use, of chemical weapons in any of these alleged incidents, our obligation to enact a meaningful response will be further intensified’. SIPRI >>

Assad Is Still Using Chemical Weapons in Syria

Although chlorine wasn’t included on the Syrian list given to inspectors, the use of chlorine-based weapons is still a violation of Syria’s commitment to the chemical weapons convention. Assad’s use of chlorine “probably started as an opportunistic use of a toxic chemical. … Then later on, a more dedicated production system was set up particularly with respect to designing barrel bombs and other types of projectiles to disseminate chlorine in larger quantities.” The Atlantic >>

Russia’s Complicity in Syria’s Chemical Weapons Attacks

After a meeting in January for the launch of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted that Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims of chemical weapons in Syria, since Russia in 2013 committed to guaranteeing that its Syrian ally cease all use of chemical weapons. “Russia has not lived up to its commitments.” VOA News >>


Ponca City Woman Pleads Guilty to Possessing Ricin

Danielle Dana Layman, 37, of Ponca City, Oklahoma, has pleaded guilty to possessing the toxin ricin. According to a complaint filed on July 1, 2017, Layman used craigslist to locate someone interested in a “10 day gig overseas.”  On May 9, 2017, she met in Ponca City with a person who responded to the craigslist post.  According to the affidavit, Layman gave that person written instructions on traveling to Tel Aviv, Israel, and using ricin to poison a specific taxi driver in exchange for $4,000 plus expenses. US Dept of Justice >>

Evaluation of Immunoassays and General Biological Indicator Tests for Field Screening of B. anthracis and Ricin

Researchers evaluated a range of biological indicator tests, including 3 protein tests, 2 ATP tests, 1 DNA test, and 1 FTIR spectroscopy instrument for their ability to screen suspicious powders for B. anthracis spores and ricin. They also evaluated 12 immunoassays (mostly lateral flow immunoassays) for their ability to screen the two agents. Health Security >>

Flu Season This Year Is Spreading Like Crazy — This Could Have Other Bio-Threat Implications

Vaccines are in high demand, hospitals are stressed, and the nation’s public health system as a whole is struggling to meet the demands of a disease for which there are effective medical countermeasures and decades of research, and we know to expect every year. What does this mean about our ability to manage the next big bio threat? The Hill >>

Safety Blunders Expose Lab Staff to Potentially Lethal Diseases in UK

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has investigated a series of lapses over the past two years that led to UK scientists falling ill at specialist labs run by hospitals, private companies, and even Public Health England. “There is nearly always something obvious that can be done to improve safety… One way to address issues in the lab is you don’t wait for things to go wrong in a major way: you look at the near-misses. You actively scan your work on a daily or weekly basis for things that didn’t turn out as expected. If you do that, you get a better understanding of how things can go wrong.” The Guardian >>


What to Do in a Nuclear Attack

According to Jeff Schlegelmilch, deputy director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, the most likely nuclear weapon will be trucked in and exploded on the ground. He estimates its yield at 10 to 15 kilotons—the same as Hiroshima. “This type of threat is very survivable,” he says. “It would be bad, but the republic would survive.” Popular Mechanics >>

Snapshot: Airmen, Commander Complete CBRN Training

Master Sgt. Anthony Kinnick, 436th Security Forces Squadron chief of standards and evaluations, records the date and time on M8 chemical detection paper during a CBRN training session Jan. 31, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. M8 paper is used to detect the presence of nerve and blister chemical agents. Dover Air Force Base >>

‘I’ll Be OK’ Attitude Behind Lack of Disaster Preparedness, Study Finds

UVic psychology study finds people living in high-risk locations for earthquakes not more prepared. The rationalizations, which he calls “dragons of inaction,” include: “Well it’s not my responsibility, the government should be doing something about it;” “What can I do about an earthquake, it’s beyond my control;” and “It’s just not going to happen.'” The strongest predictors of preparedness turned out to be having a positive attitude about being able to do something about the risk, and fear of tsunamis.

Preparing the Whole Community: Including Homelessness in Disaster Planning

Individuals and families who are homeless are among the most vulnerable members of our society because of their limited resources, social isolation, and the prevalence of health conditions. Disasters amplify these conditions, as the social safety nets that the homeless rely on during non-disaster times can be disrupted and even shut down at a time of surging demand. Natural Hazards Center >>

205th MI Executes CBRN to Increase its Readiness

Soldiers assigned to the 205th Military Intelligence Battalion, 500th MI Brigade-Theater (MIB-T) recently conducted a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) defense training exercise at the Gas Chamber at Schofield Barracks. “Being able to put on the JSLIST overgarment properly and don the protective mask effectively is essential to survive in a chemical environment.” Hawaii Army Weekly >>


 Length Doesn’t Matter – Limiting Iran’s Missile Range Capabilities

The United States’ insistence on addressing Iran’s missile program and the newly expressed European willingness to cooperate in this endeavor should be welcomed. To effectively cope with the Iranian missile challenge, however, the administration should abandon its current focus on long-range missiles, because the threat is tied to the warhead, not the missile’s range. Foreign Policy >>

RadResponder Module Monitors Critical Population Data

Through the testing of the system, the goal for the participants was to understand how the features in the RadResponder module could be used during a response, including the ability to add community reception centers to an event map and input aggregate data on the screened population (numbers with internal/external contamination, signs of ARS, sent/referred to hospitals, etc.). Overall, the test group thought the module was fairly easy to use with little training, as long as the user had some general familiarity with RadResponder.  NACCHO >>


Ahmad Khan Rahimi Sentenced to Life in Prison for NY Bombing

The man who set off pressure cooker bombs in New York and New Jersey in 2016 has been sentenced to life. Ahmad Khan Rahimi injured 30 people when he set off a bomb in Manhattan. The Afghan-born US citizen, who was captured after a shootout with police, told the court that he does not “harbour hate for anyone”. According to federal prosecutors, the 30-year-old has not shown remorse and has attempted to radicalise others in prison to support Islamic State. BBC News >>

Unexploded WWII Bomb to be Detonated as London City Airport Reopens

London City Airport has re-opened following the discovery of an unexploded Second World War bomb nearby. Flights resumed as normal after scores were cancelled when a 500kg explosive was found 15m underwater in the River Thames. A 214m exclusion zone was set up after the German general purpose bomb was found grounded in the seabed at King George V Dock in east London. Sky News >>


Dirty Bomb Drones, Physical-Logical Urban Protection Systems and Explosive/Radiological Materials regulation’s Challenges in the Age of Globalization

In the age of globalization, information technology, international trade and investment, the commerce in R-sources and devices is conducted on a global scale. No country can effectively prevent from crossing its borders, the black market based on illicit used, misplaced, or stolen radioactive sources. The control of radioactive sources and contaminated products poses challenges on both national and international scales. Biomedicine & Prevention >>

Evaporation of the Nerve Agent GB from Common Matrices: A Model-System Study

Small nerve agent GB droplets are dispersed on the matrices surfaces, and samples are collected from the model system and analyzed utilizing a solid phase extraction/gas chromatography analytical method. Profiles demonstrating the vapor concentrations as a function of time are calculated. Wiley >>

Field-Deployable Rapid Multiple Biosensing System for Detection of ChemBio Warfare Agents

Paper details testing utilizing mist generator-assisted air collection system and biosensing chip technologies, such as electrochemical measurement, Au nanoparticle-based localized surface plasmon resonance, and rapid microfluidic chip PCR for detection of minute concentrations lower than the mean lethal dose (LD50) of nerve gases (sarin and VX), toxic proteins (BTX/A/Hc and ricin), and pathogens (anthrax simulant). Microsystems & Nanoengineering >>

Iron-Montmorillonite Clays as Active Sorbents for the Decontamination of Hazardous Chemical Warfare Agents

A class of heterogeneous catalysts based on commercial bentonite from natural origin, containing at least 80 wt% of montmorillonite clay, was designed to transform selectively and under mild conditions toxic organosulfur and organophosphorus chemical warfare agents into non-noxious products with reduced impact on health and environment. Royal Society of Chemistry >>

Destruction of CWA Simulants by Air and Moisture Stable Metal NHC Complexes

The cooperative effect of both NHC and metal centre has been found to destroy chemical warfare agent (CWA) simulants. Choice of both the metal and NHC is key to these transformations as simple, monodentate N-heterocyclic carbenes in combination with silver or vanadium can promote stoichiometric destruction, whilst bidentate, aryloxide-tethered NHC complexes of silver and alkali metals promote breakdown under mild heating. Iron–NHC complexes generated in situ are competent catalysts for the destruction of each of the three targeted CWA simulants. Royal Society of Chemistry >>


I Signed Up to Be a CBRN. What Advice Would You Give?

The CBRN course is very good, the experience is valuable and will set you up for a very lucrative career in HAZMAT if you chose. The course is very expensive for civilians to learn and it’s all hands on with some death by power point, it’s fast pace so take notes. Once you get to your unit you will have to spend a lot of time trying to use it. Most units don’t know how to use CBRN NCO’s. RallyPoint >>

The Curious Death of Former New York Congressman Michael Farley from Anthrax

In 1921, former New York Representative Michael Francis Farley, suffering severe pains, was admitted by his physician into the sick ward at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Seven hours later, Farley was dead at age 56. The one-term Congressman had contracted a powerful form of anthrax less than two days earlier. What first appeared to be a blemish on his chin, quickly spread to his neck and face. >>

New Rainbow Six Siege Outbreak Trailer Shows CBRN Operators

While the idea is on the table, Ash stresses nuclear detonation will be a last resort. Instead, the outfit will call in CBRN, the latest operators of Rainbow Six Siege, specially trained to deal with biohazard threats. French CBRN “Lion” and Russian CBRN “Finka” were first introduced in a Ubisoft blog earlier this month, but we finally get to know a little bit more about them in this trailer. Player One >>

Watch Beetles Deploy Natural Chemical Weapons

It might not quite qualify as an extremophile like the mighty tardigrade that seems basically invincible, but the bombardier beetles studied by Japanese researchers at Kobe University manage to survive a long soak in a toad’s stomach juices before being liberated by their own natural chemical weapons. Forbes >>

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