Effective and timely decontamination of modern nerve agents including VX and Novichok agents is notoriously difficult. Which of the following performed best in protecting against VX toxicity in a guinea pig study? a) rapid decontaminating skin lotion (RSDL), b) 0.5% bleach, c) 1% soapy water, and d) M291 SDK
A) — RSDL, or rapid decontamination skin lotion, is a mixture of several components. A polyethylene glycol monomethyl ether substrate is used to help “pull in” and stabilize chemical warfare agents (blister and nerve), whereas Dekon 139 and a 2,3-butanedione monoxime (DAM) work to chemically inactivate (via a nucleophilic substitution reaction). The product is commercially available and sold in small green packets, which can be used by anyone unfortunate enough to be exposed to modern nerve agents. Toxicologists should consider coordination with local and national-level emergency response agencies when reviewing decontamination strategies for novel organophosphate agents including VX and Novichok agents. In this particular guinea pig study, RSDL was superior to both bleach and soapy water as a decontamination measure against VX, while unfortunately M291 kits did not provide any significant protection when compared with control animals.
1. Braue et al., Efficacy studies of Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion, M291 Skin Decontamination Kit, 0.5% bleach, 1% soapy water, and Skin Exposure Reduction Paste Against Chemical Warfare Agents, Part 1: Guinea pigs challenged with VX, Pages 15-28 | Received 07 Jun 2010, Accepted 06 Aug 2010, Published online: 13 Oct 2010. 2. https://chemm.hhs.gov/countermeasure_RSDL.htm
Contributed by: Joseph Kennedy University of Vermont Medical Toxicology