Polysaccharide-thickened aqueous fluoride solutions for rapid destruction of the nerve agent VX. Introducing the opportunity for extensive decontamination scenarios

Shlomi Elias, Sigal Saphier, Ishay Columbus, Yossi Zafrani
Environmental Science & Technology 2014, 48 (5): 2893-900
Among the chemical warfare agents, the extremely toxic nerve agent VX (O-ethyl S-2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl methylphosphonothioate) is a target of high importance in the development of decontamination methods, due to its indefinite persistence on common environmental surfaces. Liquid decontaminants are mostly characterized by high corrosivity, usually offer poor coverage, and tend to flow and accumulate in low areas. Therefore, the development of a noncorrosive decontaminant, sufficiently viscous to resist dripping from the contaminated surface, is necessary. In the present paper we studied different polysaccharides-thickened fluoride aqueous solutions as noncorrosive decontaminants for rapid and efficient VX degradation to the nontoxic product EMPA (ethyl methylphosphonic acid). Polysaccharides are environmentally benign, natural, and inexpensive. Other known decontaminants cannot be thickened by polysaccharides, due to the sensitivity of the latter toward basic or oxidizing agents. We found that the efficiency of VX degradation in these viscous solutions in terms of kinetics and product identity is similar to that of KF aqueous solutions. Guar gum (1.5 wt %) with 4 wt % KF was chosen for further evaluation. The benign nature, rheological properties, adhering capabilities to different surfaces, and decontamination from a porous matrix were examined. This formulation showed promising properties for implementation as a spray decontaminant for common and sensitive environmental surfaces.

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