Skip to comments.Sprayable Foam Wages War on Chemical, Biological Weapons - Oatmeal Kills Anthrax Bacteria
Posted on 10/29/2001 12:52:22 PM PST by tallhappy
First Quarter 2001
SECTION: THE END OF CHANGE; Technology; Pg. 42
HEADLINE: Sprayable Foam Wages War on Chemical, Biological Weapons
BYLINE: By Daniel Ehntholt; Daniel Ehntholt, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) leads the team that developed the decontamination foam. He is a Vice President of the Arthur D. Little Technology & Innovation Group and a Director of its Technology and Product Development activities. In an anti-terrorism breakthrough marked as much by its simplicity as by its efficacy, a team of Arthur D. Little, Inc. researchers has developed a low-cost sprayable foam that can neutralize a wide range of biological and chemical warfare agents -- including anthrax and Sarin gas.
The appearance of the decontamination foam, developed by ADL for a U.S. federal interagency team, comes at a time when government officials at all levels have been considering the possibility of bio-terrorism in civilian settings.
It is an unfortunate fact that the threat of biological and chemical terrorism is on the rise. Municipal governments, law enforcement agencies, and emergency response teams are taking measures to contain the level of exposure should an attack occur. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been helping prepare states for such an emergency by providing effective countermeasures to biological and chemical weapons. President Clinton and Congress turned their attention toward this threat by authorizing increased funding for research, product development, and training in this area.
With the development of the new decontaminant, police, firefighters, bomb squads, ambulance personnel, and other "first responders" will finally have an easy-to-use, non-toxic tool that can be sprayed using conventional fire-fighting apparatus. This makes it possible to quickly and easily neutralize biological and chemical weapons at the point of contamination, before such substances can cause widespread harm.
OATMEAL ENZYME PRODUCES BREAKTHROUGH
The sudsy liquid decontaminant can disable the deadly and easily produced anthrax bacteria. It can also combat Sarin, the chemical used in the 1995 Tokyo subway attack that killed 12 people. Finding a combination of ingredients that could stop both of those toxic agents -- as well as others -- required an interdisciplinary team of scientists that included chemists, food specialists, microbiologists, and biochemists.
While the chemical decontamination approach proved relatively easy to develop, a breakthrough in solving the anthrax portion of the equation only came when scientists noted the conceptual similarity between the protective shell of the anthrax spore and the hard outer casing found on oat grains.
Drawing on the group's diverse background in the sciences, the project team theorized correctly that an approach used in the manufacture of instant oatmeal would provide a solution. In that case, an enzyme gently cracks the grain's outer casing to speed the cooking process. Similarly, an approach using readily available commercial materials proved effective in allowing the active ingredients of the decontaminant to break through the anthrax spore's protective armor and then deactivate the enclosed bacteria.
That enzymatic insight and others have led to a far less cumbersome and more environmentally safe product than what is typically used by the military in combat situations, making the foam ideal for use in office buildings and other public spaces.
In addition to being safe and easy to use, the decontamination foam is expected to be affordably priced at approximately $ 10 to $ 15 a gallon. Furthermore, the more expensive enzyme needed to neutralize the chemical agents is kept separate from the biological agent decontaminant; therefore, when only a biological threat needs to be thwarted, the price is further reduced. To date, 14 companies have expressed interest in obtaining licenses to produce the product, which has a shelf life of more than a year.
PERSONAL MONITORS TO COME
Still to come from Arthur D. Little scientists is a personal monitor to complement the decontamination offering. The monitor would be worn by first responders to immediately identify the presence and nature of any airborne threat, and thus help them formulate an appropriate response. Because the monitors will also be able to determine the absence of toxic nerve agents, they will reduce the number of false alarms and unnecessary evacuations. The ADL team expects to have a monitor prototype within a year.
While nothing can prevent determined terrorists from attempting to use toxic agents to achieve their ends, nothing has come closer to providing a new sense of civilian security than this new foam decontaminant. Clearly, the goal is to be able to deploy it quickly when necessary. The hope, of course, is that it will never have to be used.
This article is from well before 911 and it sounds promising.
I guess this could become a very popular costume this time of year. When you were done your husband or wife could lick it all off, if they are into oatmeal that is :o)
The outer casing of oat grain is similar to the outer casing of anthrax causing bacterium and the same enyzme that breaks down the molecules making up these shells works on both.
In the case of oatmeal it makes it easier to cook faster.
In the case of the anthrax bacteria it kills the bacteria.
I think that this spray should get produced and distributed ASAP.
First gelatinous and lumpy, then concretelike mass. Yup, that's my Mom's oatmeal.
Even now, when we're visiting Mom, we always suggest taking Mom out for breakfast, Just In Case.
BTW, I can't. Got it from Lexis-Nexis.
Yeah, that's obvious.
Still sounds good.
Note it is a pdf -- Adobe Acrobat file.
This is a link to the linking page, www.adlittle.com/publications/prism.asp
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