What is like to be caught up in a chemical attack?

Richard Gray, a BBC journalist, joined TOXI-triage team at the FTX DISPERSE in Mikkeli (Finland)

In this article he reflects on how much can be done after a chemical attack, such as the release of sarin gas in Tokio trains in 1995 that killed 13 people and injured thousands, to prevent a serious loss of life.

In TOXI-triage we believe technology could help emergency services to quickly acknowledge the situation, identify the toxic agent and rapidly diagnose and triage casualties greatly improving their chances of survival.

Information collection using process visualisation in the risk management concept for emergency response


Security-critical processes of emergency response are part of a complex system of people, organisation and technology. They are often characterised by their own dynamics, interconnectedness and information deficits. In addition, a wide variety of stakeholders, some from different organisations, work together, each specialising in a specific area. In order to capture this (process-) knowledge in risk management, information from the experts is necessary.

A versatile and compact reference gas generator for calibration of ion mobility spectrometers


HELMHOLTZ-ZENTRUM FUER UMWELTFORSCHUNG GMBH -UFZ developed a versatile and compact reference gas generator for the calibration of ion mobility spectrometers or other gas detection technologies. The principle is based on the use of permeation tubes or diffusion vessels. This approach allows the reference gas to be generated with very low concentrations of analytes.

Molecularly Imprinted Polymer Materials as Selective Recognition Sorbents for Explosives: A Review


Explosives are of significant interest to homeland security departments and forensic investigations. Fast, sensitive and selective detection of these chemicals is of great concern for security purposes as well as for triage and decontamination in contaminated areas. To this end, selective sorbents with fast binding kinetics and high binding capacity, either in combination with a sensor transducer or a sampling/sample-preparation method, are required. Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) show promise as cost-effective and rugged artificial selective sorbents, which have a wide variety of applications.

VOCCluster: Untargeted Metabolomics Feature Clustering Approach for Clinical Breath Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry Data

Preprint at ChemRxiv

Our unsupervised clustering technique, VOCCluster, prototyped in Python, handles features of deconvolved GC-MS breath data. VOCCluster was created from a heuristic ontology based on the observation of experts undertaking data processing with a suite of software packages. VOCCluster identifies and clusters groups of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from deconvolved GC-MS breath with similar mass spectra and retention index profiles.

Miniaturized high-performance drift tube ion mobility spectrometer


Developing powerful hand-held drift tube ion mobility spectrometers (IMS) requires small, lightweight drift tubes with high analytical performance. In this work, we present an easy-to-manufacture, miniaturized drift tube ion mobility spectrometer, which is manufactured from polyether ether ketone, stainless steel foils and printed circuit boards.

Convolutional neural networks for automated targeted analysis of raw gas chromatography–mass spectrometry data

Through their breath, humans exhale hundreds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can reveal pathologies, including many types of cancer at early stages. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is an analytical method used to separate and detect compounds in the mixture contained in breath samples. The identification of VOCs is based on the recognition of their specific ion patterns in GC-MS data, which requires labour-intensive and time-consuming preprocessing and analysis by domain experts.

Ergonomics Systems Mapping for Professional Responder Inter-operability in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Events


A European consensus was developed as a concept of operations (CONOPS) for cross-border, multi-professional chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) responses. AcciMaps were co-designed with professional responders from military, fire, ambulance, and police services in UK, Finland and Greece. Data were collected using document analysis from both open and restricted sources to extract task and operator information, and through interviews with senior staff representatives (Gold or Silver Command level).

Sprayed liquid-gas extraction of semi-volatile organophosphate Malathion from air and contaminated surfaces


In this study, a new air sampling method termed sprayed liquid–gas extraction (SLGE) was developed for semi-volatile organic compounds. Water droplets with an average diameter of less than 10 μm were created, using a flow blurring nebulizer from distilled water and the gas-phase sample. This allowed the fast, simple and highly-efficient enrichment of trace levels of the widely used organophosphate insecticide malathion, which is also an accepted simulant for the potent nerve-agent VX.