There’s nothing remotely green about nerve gas, mustard gas, anthrax, and other nasty chemical agents that could be used in a terrorist attack. The cleanup process, on the other hand, doesn’t have to be completely unsustainable, according to U.S. Military chemists. George Wagner and a group of colleagues revealed in a recent issue of ACS’ Industrial Engineering and Chemistry Research that a new suite of decontamination agents, dubbed Decon Green, are both effective and non-toxic.
The peroxide-based agents are no more harmful than traditional household cleaners and whitening toothpastes. But the mixture of peroxide with bicarbonates (a non-toxic base) produces reactive ions called peroxyanions that can easily break down toxic chemicals, kill anthrax spores, and remove radioactive cobalt and cesium from smooth surfaces.
Decon Green is durable, too–one formula can survive in sub-zero temperatures, and the other can be quickly mixed at the scene of a terrorist attack or chemical spill. So while we hope that Decon Green never has to be used, we won’t worry too much about its environmental impact if it’s whipped out in case of emergency.
Lead photo by Army.mil