NERVE agents such as sarin and VX can kill quickly in low doses. Kim Jong Nam (pictured), half brother of Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s leader, was recently murdered by having VX smeared on his face at Kuala Lumpur airport. Though the use of nerve agents is supposed to be banned by treaty, governments and terrorists have deployed them, and may do so again in the future. At the moment, there is no simple way for soldiers in the field, or inspectors looking for manufacturing and storage sites, to detect nerve agents. The electrochemical sensors involved are bulky and awkward to use.
On civvy street, meanwhile, similar chemicals are employed as pesticides to ward off insects that might otherwise damage fruit and vegetable crops. If such crops are not thoroughly washed after picking, or have been overdosed in the first place, then they, too, may present a health hazard. Yet inspecting them to see if they are contaminated can also be a hassle.
It would be better all round if people had suitable detection technology available at their fingertips. And Joseph Wang of the University of California, San Diego, reports in ACS Sensors that he has a…Continue reading
Source: New feed