Hands On

Re­view: Fast-Act Chem­i­cal De­con­tam­i­na­tion Ready Kit

RECOIL OFFGRID - - Contents - By Scott Fi­nazzo

Re­view of the Fast-Act Chem­i­cal De­con Ready Kit

In the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, self reliance and dis­as­ter preparation have be­come a pri­or­ity for many peo­ple. You don’t have to look very far to un­der­stand why. While most would say they have the ba­sics of preparation cov­ered: food, wa­ter, shel­ter, self de­fense, and so forth, the mere thought of hav­ing safety mea­sures in place for a chem­i­cal ex­po­sure is daunt­ing. Not only be­cause of the vast pos­si­bil­i­ties of solid, liq­uid, or gaseous haz­ards, but also the po­ten­tial cost of such prepa­ra­tions.

Fast-Act pro­vides a kit that seems to have you cov­ered, at least in gen­eral haz­mat terms. At a list price of $190, their chem­i­cal de­con­tam­i­na­tion kit isn’t be­yond the bud­get for most peo­ple and cov­ers a lot of ground in a small pack­age.

At first glance, it seems to have the crit­i­cal pieces for initial de­con from ex­po­sure to a chem­i­cal. Fast-Act claims to not only con­tain but to chem­i­cally break down and neu­tral­ize a wide va­ri­ety of chem­i­cal com­pounds. Given the com­pact size of the kit, there are lim­i­ta­tions to the amount of prod­uct for which it can be used, but in all fair­ness, you don’t buy a kit like this to pro­vide large-scale de­con­tam­i­na­tion. The Chem­i­cal De­con Ready Kit con­tains enough com­po­nents for you to ex­e­cute gross de­con and neu­tral­ize a small amount of prod­uct. The kit can be pur­chased pre-built, or the prod­ucts within it can be pur­chased à la carte, but the de­con-ready kit it­self in­cludes key pieces that you’ll want to pro­vide a ba­sic amount of chem­i­cal pro­tec­tion.

What’s In­cluded

Masks: Three air pu­ri­fy­ing res­pi­ra­tor masks are in­cluded in the kit and in­tended to pro­vide a bar­rier against haz­ardous par­tic­u­lates as well as min­i­mize nox­ious odors. Although the masks aren’t to be used as a re­place­ment for le­git­i­mate gas masks, they boast “patented neu­tral­iza­tion tech­nol­ogy,” which, ac­cord­ing to the web­site, has been eval­u­ated against dan­ger­ous chem­i­cal war­fare agents, in­clud­ing mus­tard gas (not that we’d recommend clean­ing up a mus­tard gas spill with this — leave that to the pros). We found the masks to be lightweight and com­fort­able. They pro­vide a good seal around the mouth and have a mal­lea-

ble nose clip for a cus­tom con­tour over the bridge of your nose.

De­con Mitt: In­side a sealed, green foil pouch is a paper mitt that’s ab­sorbent on one side, al­low­ing you to quickly wipe prod­uct from your­self or some small equip­ment. A hook-and-loop strap around the base of the mitt per­mits you to se­cure it to your hand so it doesn’t slip off in your haste to re­move the chem­i­cal or when the mitt catches on some­thing. It’s a sim­ple but ef­fec­tive de­sign. No need for any­thing fancy here. You stick your hand in, cinch it tight around your wrist, and quickly wipe away the haz­ard. A sin­gle mitt doesn’t of­fer a whole lot of ab­sorbency, so the four mitts that come with the kit pro­vide more rea­son­able cov­er­age for any­thing more than a mi­nor ex­po­sure.

Mi­crofiber Towel Set: The kit also comes with a set of two mi­crofiber tow­els. It’s a con­ve­niently pack­aged set to con­duct gross de­con, fol­lowed im­me­di­ately by a more thor­ough de­con. As with the rest of the kit, the tow­els aren’t re­ally in­tended for any­thing other than a small area — per­sonal use or small equip­ment. The two tow­els are dif­fer­ent in pur­pose and eas­ily dis­tin­guish­able: one green and one black. The green towel is in­tended to be used first as an ab­sorbent, fol­lowed by the black towel, which is coated in the pro­pri­etary Fast-Act sor­bent pow­der that al­lows it to be used for sur­face de­con and neu­tral­iza­tion of a large va­ri­ety of chem­i­cal residue. The con­ve­nience of the re­seal­able pouch is es­pe­cially handy when the tow­els have been used. Sim­ply place them back in the pouch and re­seal.

Pow­der: Two 50-gram bot­tles of Fast-Act sor­bent pow­der are pack­aged to­gether in a sim­i­lar re­seal­able packet as the tow­els. The pow­der is a pro­pri­etary blend of metal ox­ides that cre­ates a large, por­ous sur­face area, which, based on a lot of test­ing found on­line, does a re­ally good job do­ing ex­actly what the com­pany claims: break­down and neu­tral­ize. The pow­der is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and sim­ple to use. Be­cause the bot­tles are in a sealed pouch, once you rip it open, there are no pesky, frus­trat­ing seals or safety pack­ag­ing to bat­tle. Sim­ply flip open the lid, aim, and squeeze.

Put it to the Test

To test the kit, we used the mi­crofiber tow­els to see if they’d clean up and de­con­tam­i­nate an area with spilled chlo­rine bleach and then tested the sor­bent pow­der to ver­ify if it would neu­tral­ize home pes­ti­cide. First, though, we donned the mask to check for odor de­tec­tion. It blocked the odor of the spilled bleach. To dou­ble-check the ef­fec­tive­ness, in a sep­a­rate lo­ca­tion, we opened a full gas can and were un­able to de­tect any odors. The mask doesn’t carry a NIOSH cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, so it should only be used as pro­tec­tion against of­fen­sive odors or “nui­sance

par­tic­u­lates,” such as dust. I wore it through­out the re­main­der of the tests, and the seal re­mained in­tact.

We then poured chlo­rine bleach onto a flat con­crete floor. The spill spread out to cover about 1 square foot. The re­seal­able towel packet opened with ease and the black towel was nested in a tight roll be­neath the green towel. As ad­ver­tised, the green mi­crofiber towel ab­sorbed much of the small spill. Upon us­ing the black towel, ex­er­cise cau­tion when you de­ploy it or you and ev­ery­thing around you will be cov­ered in pow­der. The black towel coated the spill area in pow­der and left no odor of chlo­rine. Both tow­els fit con­ve­niently back into the pouch for dis­posal.

To test the sor­bent pow­der bot­tles, we cre­ated a small spill of home pes­ti­cide (bifen­thrin). In an ef­fort to sim­u­late a real in­ci­dent, we hur­riedly opened the foil bag and re­trieved one of the pow­der squeeze bot­tles. We popped the top, pointed it at the spill, and squeezed un­til the pud­dle was cov­ered. The spill was ap­prox­i­mately 8 by 8 inches; it took about one-third of one bot­tle to cover, so the pow­der will blan­ket more area than you might think. Check­ing the pH prior to ap­ply­ing, it was acidic (yel­low). Once the pow­der was ap­plied, the pH showed to be neu­tral (or­ange). It per­formed, at least on pes­ti­cide, as promised.

Fast-Act claims this de­con kit will work on a vast ar­ray of chem­i­cals, but be­cause of the re­quired EPA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, they can­not make any claims against “bi­o­log­i­cal” haz­ards. Bi­o­log­i­cal haz­ards in­clude things like E. coli, sal­mo­nella, and clostrid­ium bo­tulinum — the nasty stuff that causes bot­u­lism. They do, though, tout that their prod­ucts work on a broad spec­trum of nasty chem­i­cal-pair­ing agents such as hy­dro­gen deu­teride, VX (nerve agent), as well as toxic in­dus­trial chem­i­cals and ma­te­ri­als, and have been cer­ti­fied by sev­eral in­de­pen­dent lab­o­ra­to­ries.

Safety

The Fast-Act prod­ucts are cer­ti­fied non­toxic and have been tested for safety by mul­ti­ple out­side agen­cies in­clud­ing the U.S. Army Cen­ter for Health Pro­mo­tion and Preven­ta­tive Medicine. The sor­bent pow­der isn’t harm­ful when it comes in con­tact with skin. How­ever, just as any other time you’re deal­ing with a haz­ardous ma­te­rial, all avail­able safety pre­cau­tions should be taken. De­pend­ing on the chem­i­cal, skin and eye pro­tec­tion could be ex­tremely im­por­tant, so take what­ever mea­sures are nec­es­sary with the spe­cific chem­i­cal you’re deal­ing with.

If it’s a spill of un­known ori­gin, even with this kit, you should avoid touch­ing it. Haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als can be qui­etly lethal. While this chem­i­cal de­con-ready kit pro­vides a good deal of pro­tec­tion, it also may boost your con­fi­dence in a way that could be dan­ger­ous if you don’t ap­ply a lit­tle com­mon sense as well. If you fol­low the in­struc­tions and use ap­pro­pri­ate pre­cau­tions, this kit pro­vides even a non­pro­fes­sional the abil­ity to con­tain small amounts of a wide spec­trum of chem­i­cals. Don’t for­get that af­ter the use of this kit, dis­posal of any kind of haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als should be done in ac­cor­dance with your lo­cal city or­di­nances for haz­mat dis­posal.

Con­clu­sion

En­tire emer­gency agen­cies are ded­i­cated to haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als mit­i­ga­tion, so cre­at­ing a com­pact and ef­fec­tive kit for per­sonal use is a bold en­deav­our. The Fast-Act Chem­i­cal De­con Ready Kit has done it, but with some lim­i­ta­tions. A few sim­ple ad­di­tions could add to the over­all safe use of the prod­uct, such as a pair of neo­prene (or other chem­i­cal-re­sis­tant) gloves and a pair of safety glasses. A shelf life of about five years is some­what lim­it­ing by many prep­per’s stan­dards, but isn’t out of the or­di­nary for de­con­tam­i­na­tion agents.

The great­est ben­e­fit would be when there’s a chem­i­cal spill on a hard, solid sur­face. If a haz­ardous chem­i­cal comes in con­tact with your skin or cloth­ing, it could po­ten­tially cause prob­lems be­fore you can get to your de­con kit, and even then, the ben­e­fit would be lim­ited. But given the scope of chem­i­cal threat readi­ness, Fast

Act has de­liv­ered a solid prod­uct. In the event of chem­i­cal ex­po­sure, they nar­rowed down to the bare es­sen­tials what might be needed while keep­ing the price tag rea­son­able given the po­ten­tial for the ex­or­bi­tant costs that could be in­curred pre­par­ing for a haz­mat in­ci­dent. It’s an im­pres­sive kit that seems to be as in­clu­sive as pos­si­ble, while re­main­ing con­densed and por­ta­ble.

The Fast Act Chem­i­cal De­con Ready Kit in­cludes masks, an ab­sorbent “mit­ten,” two-pack of mi­crofiber tow­els, and two bot­tles of sor­bent pow­der.

The green mi­crofibertowel is used for quick ab­sorp­tion of a liq­uid prod­uct. Gloveswould’ve been a smart ad­di­tion, given the na­ture of this kit’sin­tended pur­pose. Here we’re wip­ing upbleach.

Here we ap­ply the pow­der to a small pud­dle of bifen­thrin, a com­mon pes­ti­cide.

The first pH paper, now yel­low, shows the acid­ity of the pes­ti­cide. Af­ter ap­ply­ing the sor­bent pow­der, the area was tested again and found to be or­ange, sig­ni­fy­ing neu­tral.

The black mi­crofiber towel, coated in sor­bent pow­der, fol­lows the green towel to ab­sorb and neu­tral­ize the chem­i­cal.

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