identify chemicals

How the Mercs Study for Finals

(So I’m a couple days late with this, but whatever.)

Medic

Did his undergrad in cell biology.

He has the worst study habits known to humankind. He procrastinates. Pulls all-nighters two nights in a row, then crashes on the floor of his dorm common area.

If the material for a certain class is interesting, he’ll go waaaay beyond what’s expected of him. Read the textbook sections that aren’t assigned. Sit in the front row of class and ask questions that stump the professor. He’ll stretch a two-minute summary presentation into fifteen minutes.

If the material for a class isn’t interesting, he can barely force himself to work on it. Homework isn’t in by the deadline, and he’s winged quite a few tests with no studying at all.

Also, being a bio major, Medic is slave laborer volunteer in one the cell bio labs. The undergrad peons are tasked with feeding the cells in the middle of the night, so he frequently studies in the lab break room. He’ll kick his shoes off, throw books and papers everywhere, and erase the common blackboard so he can draw his own anatomy diagrams and dove doodles.  When it comes time to feed the cells, he’ll pad across the lab in his socks. The PI knows Ludwig is a walking safety violation, but hey, the kid is really good at keeping the cells alive.

When Medic’s grades come out, he’s earned a mixture of A+’s and D-‘s.

Only reason he got accepted to med school was because his name was on several scientific papers before he finished undergrad. Always give authorship to the guy who keeps the cells alive.

Engie

Electrical engineering undergrad.

Dell is that one guy who grasps very abstract concepts very quickly. (“Well, of course adiabatic compression causes temperature increase.” And he understands fugacity.) He’s really good at thermo. Fight me.

All of his classmates would hate him if he weren’t so willing to help everybody else. He does it partially out of niceness, partially to show off, and partially because explaining concepts helps him learn.

For finals week, Dell and a friend or five will camp out in one of those group study rooms that have blackboards. They’ll settle down with coffee and a box of doughnuts or something and just crank out practice problems. Groups study sessions are loud. Lots of talking and arguing about theory and approaches. Occasional tears.

The janitor has to kick them out every night. It’s probably a good thing. Dell is not Ludwig – he’s never pulled an all-nighter in his life, and when he doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t function.

Heavy

Did his undergrad in literature.

He’s the most serious student you’ve ever seen. Going to college is a great opportunity, and he’s very lucky to be here. And damnit. He. Will. Not. Screw. It. Up.

Anyway, because of the nature of his degree, he has more final projects than final exams. Misha starts his projects the day they’re assigned. All his books have annotations in the margins; they’re so well-thumbed that the bindings are starting to fail. He goes to every office hour every week, asking the professor to give his draft a looksee. (“For the umpteenth time, it’s fine, just write the final draft already.) The biggest fault with his writing is his tendency to pander to what the professor wants to hear. He wants good grades so badly that he’ll forget about himself in the process. The professors have had to give him a loving kick in the pants now and again. Tell him it’s okay to disagree with them.

Misha’s been known to get over 100% in some of his classes because he went to all the extra-credit poetry readings.

It goes without saying that he got into graduate school without trouble.

Demo

I like to think that Demo tried college, but never completed it. Entering a formal classroom setting after a lifetime of homeschooling is rough enough. And it’s been shown pretty clearly that Demo’s coping skills are… not the greatest. Because I am a cruel and terrible person, I hc him as suffering from crippling test anxiety.

And let’s face it, testing environments can suck. Being stuffed in an enormous lecture hall with a “desk” that’s smaller than an 8.5x11 sheet of paper, listening to the sniffles of a hundred other students, not being allowed to use the bathroom while the florescent lights flicker overhead…Tavish will choke. He can’t focus on the problems because he’s panicking so hard. And then he’ll look up, realize he has fifteen minutes left and scribble down some sort of nonsense synthesis because he has to write something.

Anyway, he failed his finals for Principals of Chem and Orgo I. That locked him out of being any sort of chemistry major. His advisor recommended he transfer to the humanities, which Tavish interpreted as a major slap in the face. He didn’t return for a second semester.

Interestingly enough, he aced the practical portion of the Orgo I final. He had four lab periods to identify a completely unknown chemical, but got it done in a period and a half. Pop that sucker in the IR, do a functional group test for confirmation, and he’s golden. He also got a copy of the Sigma-Aldritch catalog from his mom and used that to compare spectra.

3

The blooming of an Amorphophallus titanum (AKA corpse flower AKA titan arum) at The Huntington Library last week inspired me!

If you think humans jump through a lot of hoops just to reproduce, check out this plant. It waits 7-10 years, storing up starch in a giant tuber, just so it can bloom for a single day. Then it pretends to be a hunk of rotting meat to attract insect pollinators. Then, months later, it switches tactics to a produce a sweet fruit so birds will disperse it’s seeds.

If you have never smelled a titan arum but for some odd reason you would like to … you are in … luck? Scientists have identified the exact malodorous chemicals that come off these strange flowers to attract pollinators - so you can create the scent at home!*

*please, for your own sake, don’t try this at home.

De La Salle University College Entrance Test 

Application Process: Online

Application Period: August – September (usually the DCAT is the last CET among the Top 4 Universities)

Exam Date: October - November (last year’s DLSUCET was held on October 16 and 23; however, due to inclement weather, the October 16 schedule was rescheduled to November 6)

Guide to Each Test

The following is what I can remember about each subtest of the DCAT. The order of the tests here may not be accurate (due to my foggy memory of this test).

Keep reading

New 'styrofoam' planet provides tools in search for habitable planets

Fifth-graders making styrofoam solar system models may have the right idea. Researchers at Lehigh University have discovered a new planet orbiting a star 320 light years from Earth that has the density of styrofoam. This “puffy planet” outside our solar system may hold opportunities for testing atmospheres that will be useful when assessing future planets for signs of life.

“It is highly inflated, so that while it’s only a fifth as massive as Jupiter, it is nearly 40 percent larger, making it about as dense as styrofoam, with an extraordinarily large atmosphere,” said Joshua Pepper, astronomer and assistant professor of physics at Lehigh University, who led the study in collaboration with researchers from Vanderbilt University and Ohio State University, along with researchers at universities and observatories and amateur astronomers around the world.

Keep reading

instagram

Watch as a thin slice of rock is gradually polished thinner, getting the thickness exactly right allows different minerals to be identified.

  • mr.geologyHere I have one #thinsectionsample. And in each “phase” you’ll see this sample getting thinner. Checking to see if you can identify any chemical or physical mineral properties, you grind the thin section and check regularly until you get the right interference color (this is quartz, therefore should show a maximum interference color of a pale yellow) When it’s this thin go very slow or you’ll ruin it like I did in my last post. The sample is very fragile and brittle. especially when you are close to the correct thickness! It’s quite easy to go from slightly too thick to slightly too thin.

THE TOXINS THAT THREATEN OUR BRAINS

Leading scientists recently identified a dozen chemicals as being responsible for widespread behavioral and cognitive problems. But the scope of the chemical dangers in our environment is likely even greater. Why children and the poor are most susceptible to neurotoxic exposure that may be costing the U.S. billions of dollars and immeasurable peace of mind.

By  James Hamblin  //  The Atlantic  //  March 18, 2014

Forty-one million IQ points. That’s what Dr. David Bellinger determined [in 2012] Americans have collectively forfeited as a result of exposure to lead, mercury, and organophosphate pesticides. …

Last month, more research brought concerns about chemical exposure and brain health to a heightened pitch. Philippe Grandjean, Bellinger’s Harvard colleague, and Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan, announced to some controversy in the pages of a prestigious medical journal that a “silent pandemic” of toxins has been damaging the brains of unborn children. The experts named 12 chemicals—substances found in both the environment and everyday items like furniture and clothing—that they believed to be causing not just lower IQs but ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. Pesticides were among the toxins they identified.

Continue reading in The Atlantic

The White House released a statement identifying a potential chemical attack by the Assad regime in Syria. It says that if the attack occurs, Assad and his military will “pay a heavy price.”

There is a Buzzfeed article on this that brings up a strange extra fact.

Five US defense officials reached by BuzzFeed News said they did not know where the potential chemical attack would come from, and were unaware the White House was planning to release its statement. Usually such statements are coordinated across the national security agencies and departments before they are released.

A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on the matter and referred questions to the White House statement. A State Department spokesperson also referred BuzzFeed News to the White House statement and said the agency did not have anything to add.

Three days after two explosions tore through a storage depot in Tianjin, China, killing at least 104 people, officials still cannot definitively identify what chemicals and other toxic waste were contained there.  Here, a massive, liquid-filled crater (center) is surrounded by smoldering building remnants, as well as rows of flattened cargo containers.  Chinese officials have tried to censor images and accounts of the catastrophe. (Photo: European Pressphoto Agency via the New York Times)

Is Everything a Chemical?

Question: Is Everything a Chemical?
Chemicals aren’t just exotic substances found in a chemistry lab. Here’s a look at what makes something a chemical and the answer to whether everything is a chemical.

Answer:
Everything is a chemical because everything is made of matter.

Matter and Chemicals
Anything that has mass and occupies space is matter. Matter consists of particles. So, basically anything you can taste, smell, or hold consists of matter and is therefore a chemical. Examples of chemicals include the chemical elements, such as zinc, helium, and oxygen; compounds made from elements including water, carbon dioxide, and salt; and more complex materials like your computer, air, rain, a chicken, a car, etc.

Matter Versus Energy
Something comprised entirely of energy would not be matter. Light, for example, has apparent mass, but it doesn’t take up space. You can see and sometimes feel energy, so the senses sight and touch aren’t reliable ways to distinguish better matter and energy or to identify a chemical.

More Examples of Chemicals
gases
liquids
solids
plasma (including most of a flame)

Examples of Things That Are not Chemicals
heat
kinetic energy
gravity
potential energy
ultraviolet light

Credit: chemistry.about.com

The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains

Leading scientists recently identified a dozen chemicals as being responsible for widespread behavioral and cognitive problems. But the scope of the chemical dangers in our environment is likely even greater. Why children and the poor are most susceptible to neurotoxic exposure that may be costing the U.S. billions of dollars and immeasurable peace of mind.

Read more. [Image: Jackie Lay]

youtube

The Brain Scoop:
Fossil Meteorites! 

500 million years ago a collision between two asteroids threw one of them out of its rotation in the belt between Jupiter and Mars. Within a few tens of thousands of years the fragments of that meteor fell to earth and sank to the bottom of an ancient sea in modern-day Sweden. Over millions of years the mineralization process replaced many of the original elements in the meteorite, but thanks to some key identifying chemical markers our geologists and meteoriticists were able to determine that these specimens, excavated from a limestone quarry, are fragments of that ancient asteroid collision. 

The craziest part of all of this? Those fragments are still falling on earth today - in fact, one was found here in Chicago a few years ago, and after analysis it was matched to one of the fossilized fragments from Sweden. 

Separated by unthinkable distances in space and more than 500 million years, they’re reunited together again right here at The Field Museum. Now tell me that isn’t a story of star-crossed lovers. 

To stop people crying out “Bush was right and the war was justified” I’m posting the important bits of this New York Times article.

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs…

The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.

The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors. The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.

The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.

Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.

In case after case, participants said, analysis of these warheads and shells reaffirmed intelligence failures. First, the American government did not find what it had been looking for at the war’s outset, then it failed to prepare its troops and medical corps for the aged weapons it did find.

The United States government says the abandoned weapons no longer pose a threat. But nearly a decade of wartime experience showed that old Iraqi chemical munitions often remained dangerous when repurposed for local attacks in makeshift bombs, as insurgents did starting by 2004.

Participants in the chemical weapons discoveries said the United States suppressed knowledge of finds for multiple reasons, including that the government bristled at further acknowledgment it had been wrong. “They needed something to say that after Sept. 11 Saddam used chemical rounds,” Mr. Lampier said. “And all of this was from the pre-1991 era.”

Others pointed to another embarrassment. In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents, the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies.

anonymous asked:

Sorry to bother you, but I was hoping you could answer a DD question for me since you seem so familiar with the comics! I'm wondering about Matt's powers and how strong they are. Specifically, can he tell money (different bills) apart by touch? And just how far away can he smell and hear things in the comics? Thanks!!

   Never apologize for asking about Matt’s senses! It’s one of our favorite topics. It’s also really difficult to give you concrete answers, because Matt is one of those superheroes whose powers are all over the place. Every writer approaches his senses and their limits differently, and he has done some crazy stuff over the years. His abilities in the Netflix show have, for the most part, been pretty tame.  

   Prepare yourself, because this is gonna get long…

Keep reading

The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons.

Airmen from the 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron practice firing M-4s while wearing gas masks. Security forces Airmen ensure the safety of the base populace so that deployed personnel can complete their missions and launch aircraft. This is the primary task of security forces personnel and is executed on a daily basis.

(Photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter, 30 APR 2008. Article by C.J. Chivers, published 14 OCT 2014, in the NY Times. Source.)

The soldiers at the blast crater sensed something was wrong.

It was August 2008 near Taji, Iraq. They had just exploded a stack of old Iraqi artillery shells buried beside a murky lake. The blast, part of an effort to destroy munitions that could be used in makeshift bombs, uncovered more shells.

Two technicians assigned to dispose of munitions stepped into the hole. Lake water seeped in. One of them, Specialist Andrew T. Goldman, noticed a pungent odor, something, he said, he had never smelled before.

He lifted a shell. Oily paste oozed from a crack. “That doesn’t look like pond water,” said his team leader, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Duling.

The specialist swabbed the shell with chemical detection paper. It turned red — indicating sulfur mustard, the chemical warfare agent designed to burn a victim’s airway, skin and eyes.

All three men recall an awkward pause. Then Sergeant Duling gave an order: “Get the hell out.”

Five years after President George W. Bush sent troops into Iraq, these soldiers had entered an expansive but largely secret chapter of America’s long and bitter involvement in Iraq.

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.

The New York Times found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003. American officials said that the actual tally of exposed troops was slightly higher, but that the government’s official count was classified.

The secrecy fit a pattern. Since the outset of the war, the scale of the United States’ encounters with chemical weapons in Iraq was neither publicly shared nor widely circulated within the military. These encounters carry worrisome implications now that the Islamic State, a Qaeda splinter group, controls much of the territory where the weapons were found.

The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors. The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.

“I felt more like a guinea pig than a wounded soldier,” said a former Army sergeant who suffered mustard burns in 2007 and was denied hospital treatment and medical evacuation to the United States despite requests from his commander.

Congress, too, was only partly informed, while troops and officers were instructed to be silent or give deceptive accounts of what they had found. “ 'Nothing of significance’ is what I was ordered to say,” said Jarrod Lampier, a recently retired Army major who was present for the largest chemical weapons discovery of the war: more than 2,400 nerve-agent rockets unearthed in 2006 at a former Republican Guard compound.

Jarrod L. Taylor, a former Army sergeant on hand for the destruction of mustard shells that burned two soldiers in his infantry company, joked of “wounds that never happened” from “that stuff that didn’t exist.” The public, he said, was misled for a decade. “I love it when I hear, ‘Oh there weren’t any chemical weapons in Iraq,’ ” he said. “There were plenty.”

Rear Adm. John Kirby, spokesman for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, declined to address specific incidents detailed in the Times investigation, or to discuss the medical care and denial of medals for troops who were exposed. But he said that the military’s health care system and awards practices were under review, and that Mr. Hagel expected the services to address any shortcomings.

“The secretary believes all service members deserve the best medical and administrative support possible,” he said. “He is, of course, concerned by any indication or allegation they have not received such support. His expectation is that leaders at all levels will strive to correct errors made, when and where they are made.”

The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.

Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.

In case after case, participants said, analysis of these warheads and shells reaffirmed intelligence failures. First, the American government did not find what it had been looking for at the war’s outset, then it failed to prepare its troops and medical corps for the aged weapons it did find.

As Iraq has been shaken anew by violence, and past security gains have collapsed amid Sunni-Shiite bloodletting and the rise of the Islamic State, this long-hidden chronicle illuminates the persistent risks of the country’s abandoned chemical weapons.

Many chemical weapons incidents clustered around the ruins of theMuthanna State Establishment, the center of Iraqi chemical agent production in the 1980s.

Since June, the compound has been held by the Islamic State, the world’s most radical and violent jihadist group. In a letter sent to the United Nations this summer, the Iraqi government said that about 2,500 corroded chemical rockets remained on the grounds, and that Iraqi officials had witnessed intruders looting equipment before militants shut down the surveillance cameras.

The United States government says the abandoned weapons no longer pose a threat. But nearly a decade of wartime experience showed that old Iraqi chemical munitions often remained dangerous when repurposed for local attacks in makeshift bombs, as insurgents did starting by 2004.

Participants in the chemical weapons discoveries said the United States suppressed knowledge of finds for multiple reasons, including that the government bristled at further acknowledgment it had been wrong. “They needed something to say that after Sept. 11 Saddam used chemical rounds,” Mr. Lampier said. “And all of this was from the pre-1991 era.”

Others pointed to another embarrassment. In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents, the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies.

Nonproliferation officials said the Pentagon’s handling of many of the recovered warheads and shells appeared to violate the Convention on Chemical Weapons. According to this convention, chemical weapons must be secured, reported and destroyed in an exacting and time-consuming fashion.

The Pentagon did not follow the steps, but says that it adhered to the convention’s spirit. “These suspect weapons were recovered under circumstances in which prompt destruction was dictated by the need to ensure that the chemical weapons could not threaten the Iraqi people, neighboring states, coalition forces, or the environment,” said Jennifer Elzea, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The convention, she added, “did not envisage the conditions found in Iraq.”

Nonetheless, several participants said the United States lost track of chemical weapons that its troops found, left large caches unsecured, and did not warn people — Iraqis and foreign troops alike — as it hastily exploded chemical ordnance in the open air.

This was the secret world Sergeant Duling and his soldiers entered in August 2008 as they stood above the leaking chemical shell. The sergeant spoke into a radio, warning everyone back.

“This is mustard agent,” he said, announcing the beginning of a journey of inadequate medical care and honors denied. “We’ve all been exposed.”

[Click through to read the rest of the article.]

‘Bit’ by blister agent in roadside bomb.

U.S. Marine Capt. Stephen T. Campbell, commanding officer of 1st Tank Battalion Commanding, assesses chemical barrels set ablaze by the Marines of 1st Tanks during an operation outside Rawah, Iraq. The barrels were found by Marines conducting routine searches in the desert for weapons caches and other insurgent activities within the Al Anbar province.

(Photo by Lance Corporal Charles Howard, 18 SEP 2007. Part 5 of article by C.J. Chivers, NYTimes, 14 OCT 2014. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Also watch the Times Documentary video with soldier interviews.)

Once American forces began finding large numbers of M110 shells, it was all but inevitable that disposal teams would be exposed to blister agent.

This happened for the first time, several techs said, on Sept. 25, 2006, after militants detonated two roadside bombs near an American patrol in southern Baghdad.

Two Navy techs — Chief Petty Officer Ted Pickett and Petty Officer Third Class Jeremiah M. Foxwell — arrived at the blast site.

They found three damaged shells, decided against destroying them in a populated area, and drove them to a demolition range beside their base, according to Mr. Foxwell, who left the Navy in 2008.

There they discovered that one 155-millimeter shell had leaked a noxious liquid. As he inhaled its vapors, Petty Officer Foxwell was instantly alarmed. “It smelled overbearingly like extreme toxicity,” he said recently. “The hair stood up on the back of my neck.”

The shell contained a brown crystalline substance they had thought was a homemade explosive. A swab with detection paper tested positive for sulfur mustard.

The sailors radioed for a technical escort unit, then put on gloves and gas masks and wrapped the shell in plastic and duct tape. They waited. Hours passed. No chemical specialists arrived.

Mustard agent acts slowly on victims. Symptoms of exposure often do not appear for hours, and intensify for days.

Late that afternoon, with the sailors worried about the effects of mustard inhalation, they destroyed the shell with an explosive charge and entered the Army clinic on their base.

External image

Jeremiah M. Foxwell at his home in Washington. In 2006 while a Navy petty officer, he and another technician handled a leaking sulfur-mustard shell. “It smelled overbearingly like extreme toxicity,” Mr. Foxwell said. “The hair stood up on the back of my neck.” (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times)

Within two days, lesions formed in Petty Officer Foxwell’s nasal passages and upper airway, according to his medical records, which noted exposure to “chemical vapors — mustard gas” from a “terrorist chemical weapon.”

But the care he would receive proved to be much less than that mandated under the Army’s treatment order.

The clinic did not perform the required blood and urine tests on Petty Officer Foxwell, according to his medical records. (His former team chief did not reply to written questions.)

Both men were returned to duty within days, though Mr. Foxwell said his breathing remained labored and his chest hurt.

Dr. Dave Edmond Lounsbury, a former Army colonel who helped prepare for the chemical warfare victims expected at the war’s start in 2003, said in an interview that Petty Officer Foxwell’s care was inadequate.

“When you first meet the patient it is impossible to tell how he is going to do,” he said. “You have to get the blood work, monitor him and follow him over time.”

“To return them soon to duty?” he said. “I would be uncomfortable with that.”

Dr. Dave Edmond Lounsbury, a former Army colonel who helped prepare for the chemical-warfare victims expected at the war’s start in 2003, says that secrecy about troops later wounded by chemical weapons was extensive.Mac William Bishop/The New York Times

The Army opened an investigation into why the chemical specialists were delayed in arriving. An officer taking statements from participants forbade Petty Officer Foxwell from discussing the incident with his peers, restricting him from issuing a warning.

“I couldn’t walk outside and tell the next route-clearance team that this was out there,” he said. “It was just not natural, the idea of not sharing. If you experience a new battlefield weapon, it is your responsibility to share that actionable information with other teams.”

Mr. Foxwell said his Navy officer-in-charge did not visit them in the clinic or submit them for Purple Hearts. The insurgents’ use of a mustard shell faded from view. “No one in my chain of command, outside of Ted, discussed the incident with me again,” he said.

After Mr. Foxwell was honorably discharged, the Veterans Administration awarded him a partial medical disability in 2008, noting chronic respiratory infections and the development of asthma.

The incident was a foreboding sign. Several months later, on March 11, 2007, two Army techs were burned.

This second exposure occurred when a team from the 756th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company was summoned to a roadside bomb made with a rusty artillery shell.

The team remotely detonated the shell and continued to the usual steps: checking to ensure the bomb was rendered harmless, and collecting evidence.

Specialist Richard T. Beasley, one of the techs, picked up the broken shell, not knowing it contained mustard agent, and stowed it in a bin on their truck beside a fresh-air intake.

CHALLENGES IDENTIFYING CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN MAKESHIFT BOMBS

SUBTLE EXTERIOR DIFFERENCES
External image

Some of these shells found side by side near Camp Taji contained sulfur mustard, but some didn’t. Dark dampness and compromised casing of sulfur mustard leakage are visibly distinguishable in the above photograph.

Improvised bombs were often built from Iraq’s stockpile of old artillery rounds. Dirty and corroded exteriors made it difficult to tell whether shells were chemical or conventional.

External image

INTERIOR DIFFERENCES

At left, a M107 conventional round, with a solid explosive core. At right, a M110 chemical round containing a small amount of explosive in the very center of the round, surrounded by a liquid chemical agent. An X-ray of internal features was sometimes the only way to tell chemical from conventional shells. But X-rays are often impractical in a war zone.

A foul smell filled the truck and irritated the soldiers’ eyes. Suspecting the shell was the odor’s source, they stopped and heaved it into a deep canal.

The next day Specialist Beasley noticed his pant leg was wet. Mustard exposure symptoms had set in. “I undid my pants,” he said, “and felt the bubble.”

His fingers were tracing a seeping blister nearly the size of his hand.

His team leader, a former sergeant who asked that his name be withheld to protect his medical privacy, discovered a similar blister on his own left leg.

At first the soldiers were confused. Then, remembering the odorous shell, the sergeant felt a rising fear. If that was mustard, he thought, and was burning their skin, what might be happening in their lungs?

The patrol sped to an Army clinic at Camp Taji.

Had the techs been burned a few years earlier, the military medical system, which had prepared before the invasion for chemical warfare casualties, might have recognized their wounds. But in 2007, with blast and gunshot wounds the predominant causes of casualties, the doctors were not ready.

The Army’s medical orders were not followed. The staff rinsed the soldiers’ eyes, put cream on Specialist Beasley’s blister, and turned them away.

“I don’t know how to describe it, except to say: confusion,” the former sergeant said. “They really didn’t know what to do. The general feel was a whole lot of people shrugging their shoulders nonstop.”

The soldiers returned to Balad Air Base, where they were stationed, and visited another clinic.

A doctor ordered treatment with painkillers, antibiotics, burn cream and cleaning of the blisters — a sensation, the former sergeant said, “like a having a wire dog brush being rubbed across your leg.”

Specialist Beasley’s medical record shows that blood and urine specimens confirmed the mustard agent exposure. But the patients were not admitted to a hospital.

Mr. Lampier, then the soldiers’ commander, said he argued that they should be evacuated to the United States. “They were raw meat trying to heal in the worst environment imaginable,” he said. “There was dust and ash and smoke from the burn pits, and they had these wounds that shouldn’t have been exposed to that.”

The soldiers remained outpatients at a clinic.

SECRECY PREVAILED. VICTIMS SAID WORD OF THEIR EXPOSURE WAS PURPOSEFULLY SQUELCHED.

All the while secrecy prevailed. The military determined the soldiers had been burned by an M110 shell. Both victims said word of their exposure was purposefully squelched.

“We were absolutely told not to talk about it” by a colonel, the former sergeant said. The order, he added, included prohibitions against mentioning mustard agent when writing home.

The secrecy was so extensive that Dr. Lounsbury said he suspected officials hid the cases even from him and two other Army doctors assigned to prepare an official textbook on treating battlefield wounds.

Their book, “War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Series of Cases, 2003-2007,” published in 2008, provided an inventory of traumas and treatments.

“We would have certainly included this case if we had known about it,” he said, “and not just for obvious medical reasons but because here was exactly the kind of wounds at the very heart of the reason the government sent our nation to war.”

The exposed soldiers’ objections to how their cases were handled grew after their commander submitted them for Purple Hearts.

The medals were disapproved by the headquarters of the American-led coalition “because the incident was deemed to have occurred after the I.E.D. was destroyed, and therefore was no longer considered to have been in contact with the enemy,” Tatjana Christian, an Army spokeswoman, said, using the abbreviation for an improvised explosive device.

External image

In March 2007, Specialist Richard T. Beasley picked up a broken shell, not knowing it contained mustard agent. The next day, while on another call, he noticed his pant leg was wet. Chemical blisters erupted on his leg. (Via Richard T. Beasley)

Purple Hearts, awarded for “wounds received in action,” according to their certificates, are a respected martial decoration. They are also contentious, given the subjectivity in defining “action.”

This is particularly true in the ordnance disposal field, because improvised bombs are dangerous before and after a foe sets them out. Bombs made with chemical ordnance pose more questions, because unlike explosives, chemical agents do not pass from dangerous to harmless in a flash.

TROOPS WOUNDED BY CHEMICAL DEVICES WERE TREATED INCONSISTENTLY: SOME RECEIVED THE MEDAL, OTHERS DID NOT.

Several techs pointed out that chemical munitions found in explosive devices were a result of conscious enemy action. But troops wounded by chemical devices were treated inconsistently: Some received the medal, others did not.

Under presidential order, Purple Hearts are awarded by each military service, which follow separate rules.

The Army regulation, another spokesman said, excludes soldiers wounded by chemical agents not released by an enemy. And because this exposure was caused when the soldiers destroyed the chemical device, he said, it did not qualify for Purple Hearts.

Mr. Beasley, who was honorably discharged in 2008, said the Army’s position was dismissive. “I remember it being, basically, that we wounded ourselves,” he said, which he called “baloney.”

“I didn’t put that shell in that hole,” he said. “And I did exactly what we were supposed to do when we dealt with an I.E.D.”

In the years since he returned to the United States and left the Army, he said, the Army has never contacted him again. His follow-up care amounted to one unsatisfying visit to a doctor near his last base.

“I went to a civilian doctor who didn’t actually believe I had been exposed to mustard agent,” he said. “That was the extent of my follow up.”

Bulletproof

Chapter 3 - Park Jimin, No Known Alias

Index

<< Chapter 2 - Jeon Jungkook, No Known Alias

Chapter 4 - Min Yoongi, Aliased Suga >>


Summary: 

Monster wasn’t afraid of anything. He wasn’t afraid as he watched from the entrance of an alleyway as Jimin stood rigid, a shadowed figure trapping him from behind as a needle pressed precariously against the younger subordinate’s neck.

Rated: M

Warnings: Graphic violence, Minor character death

1,252 words

Keep reading