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Rapid Decontamination of Chemical Warfare Agents-CHAPTER 71

Elsevier Inc.
DOI: 10.1016/b978-012374484-5.00071-7
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Publisher Summary Organophosphates (OP) nerve agents are a serious threat to military and civilian personnel. Another serious problem that may be encountered while caring for personnel contaminated with OP nerve agents is the possibility that there will be cross-contamination to the medical personnel treating affected personnel. During combat or terrorist acts, individuals might be exposed to chemical toxins before they don their protective gear. Medical decontamination executes removal and/or neutralization of chemical warfare agents, which, upon penetration of the skin, produces vesication, or for OPs, penetrates to the systemic circulation and inactivates cholinesterases (ChEs). The most important process for the exposed soldier or civilian is to remove the chemical agent from the skin as quickly as possible. The soldier, under harsh conditions, must use the product quickly to minimize transdermal penetration. A decontaminant that inactivates the chemical agent prevents its penetration through the skin and potentially protects a medical worker or buddy from suffering a second hand exposure. Other criteria for the decontaminating system and reagents are that they are as universal as possible and protect against the various classes of chemical agents. In other words, the soldier has a limited amount of space and weight to carry, and cannot carry multiple decontamination schemes. Furthermore, it is unlikely that a soldier would be able to determine the type of agent with which he or she is contaminated in the absence of symptoms.

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