Real-time detection of Chemical Warfare Agents at clearance decontamination levels for surface contamination: a challenge for civilian authorities
CBRN Protection GmbH, Vienna, Austria
Accepted: 23 March 2021
Published online: 11 May 2021
NATO doctrine considers clearance decontamination to be applicable after the termination of a CBRN incident and largely deems the conduct of clearance decontamination to be a civilian, not a military, capability (NATO Standard NATO STANREC 4784 CBRN Clearance Decontamination, Study Draft 1, November 2015). Clearance decontamination procedures are such that the process is verified as being achieved by determining the residual contamination levels on every part of various surfaces of equipment and infrastructure, and by demonstrating that such levels are below the ones that are pre-determined by the relevant civilian authorities, who are responsible for the safety of the civilian population (NATO Standard NATO STANREC 4784 CBRN Clearance Decontamination, Study Draft 1, November 2015). The current desirable surface contamination detection levels for some Chemical Warfare Agents are technically challenging and may be beyond the capabilities of current technologies of military and civilian authorities. Can those low levels be detected, in real time, with existing technologies? Proton Transfer Reaction–Time of Flight–Mass Spectrometry (PTR–ToF–MS) enables simultaneous real-time detection, monitoring, and quantification of volatile organic compounds. Trials and evaluations with this PTR–ToF–MS technology, using Chemical Warfare Agents as contaminants, will show that this technology is an invaluable asset in supporting civilian authorities when determining safe levels of surface contamination in real time, after the completion of decontamination operations.
© The Author(s) 2021
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