ITT Corp. has unveiled a database that will enable firefighters and other first responders to identify unknown substances that could be used as chemical weapons.
This DOMAIN/Chemical database includes more than 1,300 chemicals as well as physical properties and requirements for storage and handling of about 4,000 such substances.
Emergency workers will be able to enter in keywords into the database to help identify potentially harmful chemicals they encounter. A description of the substance will pop up on the laptop computer along with health hazards and handling instructions.
In the absence of labels, first responders can use keywords such as "yellow liquid" to describe or identify hazardous substances and chemicals, although this comes with limitations as many chemicals might fit into such a description.
Only those with some degree of training would be equipped with a laptop linked to the database. Troops in Iraq have used the database after discovering chemicals in private homes that could have been harmless, but may also be used as a bombmaker.