The decontamination method invented and tested in a scientific research is ready for industry-scale production.

Though chemical warfare is prohibited by international agreements, it has been used recently in Syria and in scattered attacks against civilians.

If damages indicate chemical weapons have been used, the victims must be rushed to emergency care, but at the same time, responders must stop even the slightest amount of the dangerous compounds from spreading in the environment. Responders who have worked in the contaminated area must be cleaned and the infra-structure must be made workable as soon as possible.  

An environmentally friendly decontamination method

The authorities in all countries are prepared for a decontamination after a CBRN attack. Their emergency supplies include decontaminants, but their use poses problems. The decontaminants are dangerous to the users and the environment.

VERIFIN (the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention) operating at the University of Helsinki studied the decontamination agents for the Finnish Defence Forces, and discovered that they were complicated but ineffective.

Professor Paula Vanninen headed a group that started developing a new, more environmentally friendly method. VERIFIN had the readiness for the work, as its analysis and research methods follow top standards and its laboratory is designated and accredited by the OPCW (Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons).

Ullastiina Hakala, PhD, who worked at VERIFIN, developed the Biodecon method, patent pending, based on a eutectic solution based on her own thesis work. 

More details about the study: The Matine research project carried out 2014-2015 with the support from Finnish Defence Research Agency. VERIFIN analysed the use of ionic solutions in decontamination and invented Biodecon. The research has carried on as a Tekes project since 2016.

Destroys sarin, mustard gas and VX

It is about preparedness. But for what?  The advantage of Biodecon is its versatility and effect on many different kinds of toxins. The tests so far have studied known chemical warfare agents, such as sarin, mustard gas, and VX, as well as biological warfare agents, and found that they were reliably made harmless with the help of Biodecon.

Its novelty lies in the fact that the reaction is caused by substances that are safe for humans and the environment. And the problem is not just flushed down the drain. When it comes into contact with Biodecon, the warfare agents changes in composition so that it becomes harmless to the environment.

For rescue services

At the moment, attacks against civilians is one of the immediate threats. The first responders at the scene are at risk, as the chemicals may spread onto the ambulance or onto the stretchers. Preparedness against CBRN threats is necessary within the emergency services while they are responsible to clean the whole civilian target.

According to Helsinki rescue services, the environmentally and user-friendly Biodecon is suitable for them.

The upkeep of emergency supplies is made easier by the fact that storing and transporting Biodecon does not require a permit for dangerous substances.

The Defence Forces also wanted a harmless decontamination method so that it could be used in the training and education of soldiers.

Testing new applications

Biodecon is primarily designed for use on surfaces.  What about people and pets?

– Biodecon has already been tested on tissue samples. According to the tests, it is not corrosive. It would also seem that it does not cause irritation of the skin, but more tests have to be done in this area. The irritation tests are planned to be carried out at the end of the year, says Ilkka Pajari from the University of Helsinki, who is heading the work to turn the product into a commercial commodity

Join us in funding and partnership

Biodecon, developed in cooperation with the Finnish Defence Forces, is an environmentally friendly decontamination solution with patent pending. It has been reliably tested in a wide range of applications. The industrial production of Biodecon will start in 2018.

– We are looking for investors and partners so that we can start production as soon as possible. The Defence Forces and emergency services need decontamination solutions that are easy to store. This will help them complement their preparedness for chemical and biological attacks, says Ilkka Pajari.

For more information, please contact:

Ilkka Pajari, ilkka.pajari@helsinki.fi, +358 40 485 9736