Pathways for the Oxidation of Sarin in Urban Atmospheres

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Terrorists have threatened and carried out chemicalhiological agent attacks on targets in major cities. The nerve agent sarin figured prominently in one well-publicized incident. Vapors disseminating from open containers in a Tokyo subway caused thousands of casualties. High-resolution tracer transport modeling of agent dispersion is at hand and will be enhanced by data on reactions with components of the urban atmosphere. As a sample of the level of complexity currently attainable, we elaborate the mechanisms by which sarin can decompose in polluted air. A release scenario is outlined involving the passage of a gas-phase agent through a city locale in ... continued below

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Streit, Gerald E.; Bossert, James E.; Gaffney, Jeffrey S.; Reisner, Jon; McNair, Laurie A.; Brown, Michael et al. November 1, 1998.

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Description

Terrorists have threatened and carried out chemicalhiological agent attacks on targets in major cities. The nerve agent sarin figured prominently in one well-publicized incident. Vapors disseminating from open containers in a Tokyo subway caused thousands of casualties. High-resolution tracer transport modeling of agent dispersion is at hand and will be enhanced by data on reactions with components of the urban atmosphere. As a sample of the level of complexity currently attainable, we elaborate the mechanisms by which sarin can decompose in polluted air. A release scenario is outlined involving the passage of a gas-phase agent through a city locale in the daytime. The atmospheric chemistry database on related organophosphorus pesticides is mined for rate and product information. The hydroxyl,radical and fine-mode particles are identified as major reactants. A review of urban air chernistry/rnicrophysics generates concentration tables for major oxidant and aerosol types in both clean and dirty environments. Organic structure-reactivity relationships yield an upper limit of 10-1' cm3 molecule-' S-* for hydrogen abstraction by hydroxyl. The associated midday loss time scale could be as little as one hour. Product distributions are difficult to define but may include nontoxic organic oxygenates, inorganic phosphorus acids, sarin-like aldehydes, and nitrates preserving cholinergic capabilities. Agent molecules will contact aerosol surfaces in on the order of minutes, with hydrolysis and side-chain oxidation as likely reaction channels.

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  • Other: DE00002471
  • Report No.: LA-13501-MS
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-36
  • DOI: 10.2172/2471 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 2471
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc671111

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  • November 1, 1998

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 29, 2015, 9:42 p.m.

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  • Nov. 3, 2016, 1:50 p.m.

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Streit, Gerald E.; Bossert, James E.; Gaffney, Jeffrey S.; Reisner, Jon; McNair, Laurie A.; Brown, Michael et al. Pathways for the Oxidation of Sarin in Urban Atmospheres, report, November 1, 1998; Los Alamos, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc671111/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.