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    Thumbs up RSDL- Chemcial Warfare

    Found this article in the CF Safety Digest. Those of us who have done "army time" will be familiary with the RSDL or its earlier cousin.

    Skin Care for the 21st Century

    Whether we realise it or not, chemicals are used regularly and in many aspects of our lives. Although they can improve quality of life, they can also present a danger. Toxic industrial chemicals and the risk of chemical warfare are no longer a threat of the future, but a fear of the present. This is why it’s vital for our troops and first responders to remain technologically prepared for any type of chemical exposure.

    Defence scientists at Defence and Research Development Canada (DRDC) have developed the Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion (RSDL®), a versatile lotion powerful enough to protect against chemical agents. They have licensed the technology to and worked with private-sector partners to bring this life-saving product to market.

    Research for the initiative began in the mid-70s, when the original concept was to develop a dual-purpose barrier cream and skin decontaminant for chemical warfare agents, such as sarin or mustard. By the mid-80s, the Canadian Forces (CF) had determined that the barrier cream was not a priority and that scientists needed only to develop a skin decontamination lotion.

    Other skin decontamination substances have been developed in the past; however none are as effective or as benign on the skin as RSDL®. Some countries use absorbent charcoal or, alternatively, Fuller’s Earth (FE) on skin that has been in contact with potentially harmful agents. Although the charcoal or the FE absorbs chemical agents, they do not destroy the chemical agent over the short term and continue to pose a toxic hazard. Other compounds used to remove chemical agents include hypochlorites and bleach, but these substances are more aggressive on skin and can have harsh side-effects.

    The active ingredient in RSDL® is a potassium oximate salt that chemically reacts with a wide range of agents to detoxify them. The RSDL® solvent serves three functions; it assists in solubilisation of the oximate salt and the target chemicals, it increases the reactivity of the active ingredient, and it acts as a thickener to provide lotion consistency and reduce lotion run-off after application. Not only does RSDL® destroy the unwanted agents, it provides protection on the surface of the skin for long periods of time after its application. RSDL® counters chemical agents by rapidly neutralizing them so they are no longer toxic and then removing the agents and their reactive elements completely from the skin’s surface. Additionally, the lotion is effective in various field conditions, is extremely gentle on skin, and can be applied near the eyes and in open wounds.

    Since chemical attacks transpire rapidly, the neutralization of chemicals must occur without delay. Because there is not always enough time to get to a medical facility, it is important to have RSDL® readily available in a convenient easily-stored form. To this end, the standard personal decontamination kit for the CF is a heat-sealed foil pouch which contains a foam application pad impregnated with liquid RSDL®. The foam applicator serves not only to apply lotion to the skin but to physically loosen and remove the chemicals. RSDL® liquid is also available in 500-mL bottles, which are intended for use in medical facilities for rapid decontamination of personnel, clothing and equipment in triage scenarios. In this setting, the lotion is poured directly over the infected site to decontaminate skin or clothing.

    Reactive Skin Decontaminant Lotion was first provided to the CF in 1991 in prototype packets absorbed on cloth pads, during the Gulf War deployments. Although Canadian Forces personnel were equipped with the lotion, it was not used. In 1995, RSDL® was ready for commercialization and after several years of rigorous trials and repetitive reviews of its effectiveness and non-toxicity, the technology was licensed and the lotion hit the market. Seven years later, the lotion was approved by the USA FDA as a medical device and has since been successfully marketed worldwide. The DRDC creation was ranked by the US Navy as its first priority for acquisition under the Foreign Comparative Test program, and in 2000 the Australian army purchased this lotion for the Sydney Olympics.

    Although the product cannot be purchased by civilians in Canada, the demand for RSDL® is ever-increasing. As part of a project for the Department of Homeland Security in the US, the Lawrence-Livermore National Laboratories undertook a collaborative research effort with the RSDL® Licensee and other parties to develop a Low-Cost Personal Decontamination System (LPDS) for use in the civilian sector to address not only chemical warfare agents but also Toxic Industrial Chemicals. The LPDS is a heat-sealed foil pouch that contains a dry absorbent pad and, in a separate compartment, a small sponge saturated with RSDL® lotion. For the best protection, the dry pad is pressed onto the contaminated site first in order to remove the bulk of the topical chemicals. Next, the lotion is applied with the RSDL® sponge to remove or neutralize residual chemicals remaining on the skin. These kits can be stored for years and would be pre-positioned to offer immediate protection at the scene.

    “The variety of toxic industrial chemicals will become a bigger concern for first responders and militaries,” says Garfield Purdon of DRDC Suffield, who played a large role in the development of RSDL®. “The structures of some organophosphate pesticides are similar to that of nerve agents so the immediate reaction with RSDL® will be similarly achieved. As a result, first responders could be equipped with LPDSs or a similar item in the future so they are better protected from such hazards,” he adds. Although RSDL® is not currently available for civilians, it has been suggested that first responders should be equipped with some form of LPDS.

    RSDL® is currently being used in Canada, the USA, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, The Netherlands, Slovenia, New Zealand and Australia.

    www.drdc-rddc.gc.ca/index1-eng.asp

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    quick, rub this stuff on your exposed skin!

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