Defining the Threats
Fourth Generation Agents (A-Series)
Known uses in 1995, 2015, 2018, and 2020
A-Series agents, potent acetylcholinesterase inhibitors with signs and symptoms similar to traditional G- and V-Series nerve agents, were designed with specific knowledge of existing NATO detection and protective equipment, and ultimately, the goal of countering those detection and protection methods.
They tend to be oily liquids which produce little to no vapors. They pose significant cross-contamination and exposure risks due to a combination of high potency and environmental persistence, and consequently a small release can rapidly become a large-area hazard.
Due to their increased potency they often require higher antidote doses and can create additional vapor hazards when improperly decontaminated.
Pharmaceutical Based Agents (PBAs)
Known use in 2002
Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl pose a similar risk to nerve agents with their potency and potential lethality. These are often referred to as pharmaceutical based agents (PBAs).
While not unique to Russia, these agents were first deliberately weaponized during the Moscow theater crisis where approximately 170 people died from respiratory arrest after a PBA mixture was disseminated in aerosol form.
Synthetic opioids are readily available through global illicit supply chains and are also synthesized by state actors. There are hundreds to thousands of potential PBA options, none of which are detected by traditional CBRNE detection technology during an aerosol dispersal event.
Review the Resources
Working together with experts in the CBRN field, we’ve put together reference material on these emerging CWAs:
The Operational Impacts of Novichoks and Pharmaceutical Based Agents
Download this two-page review of the operational impacts of Novichoks and pharmaceutical-based agents.
CBRN History Overview
Download this detailed overview of the last 100 years of chemical warfare development and use. Chemical warfare agents have evolved greatly over the last 100 years.
Responding to Emerging Threats: Detect, Decon, and Verify
Stay Ahead of the Unexpected
- Receive the latest case studies in emerging threats and response information, from chemical warfare attacks to the scourge of the fentanyl crisis
- Detailed brief on a range of effective technologies for hazardous materials, chemical weapons, and FGA detection and identification
- Discuss best practices for safety, personal protection, and decontamination
Novichoks in the News
Watch this review on the history of how Novichok chemical warfare agents were developed.
- The unique challenges Novichoks present to the responder
- Known events where Novichoks were used
- Response recommendations
- Detection and Identification solutions
Watch this detailed review of the Russian Novichok attack in Salisbury, England and its impacts on today’s first responders and military personnel.
- Details on the “Salisbury Incident” on March 4, 2018 where a Novichok was used, and the response that followed
- Gain insights into the response in England that can guide future encounters
- Explore how the MX908 can support responders who may be facing a Novichok in the field
When Two Worlds Collide – The Nexus Between Drugs and Terrorism
Join Dr. Christina Baxter for a review of the current threat spectrum, with deep focus on pharmaceutical-based agents and aerosolized threats.
Rapid FGA and PBA Detection at the Point of Need
The MX908 significantly reduces advantages of A-series nerve agents and PBAs by providing rapid, trace-level identification in any phase. Switching from analyzing trace residue on a doorknob or other surfaces to aerosol and vapor analysis can be accomplished with a single device in seconds. Analysis of threat material is performed just as rapidly.
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