Morphix Chameleon - wrist worn chemical detection for first responders
By Darren Quick
September 28, 2011
When it comes to toxic gases, what you can't see can most definitely hurt you. To improve the safety of military personnel, firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel who are often called into situations where they may be exposed to toxic gases, Morphix Technologies has developed the Chameleon chemical detection device. Designed to be worn on the forearm, the device can hold up to ten disposable cassettes, each of which detects a different toxic gas.
Leveraging its experience in colormetric badges to monitor the air quality in industrial environments, Morphix Technologies Chameleon provides hands-free detection of up to ten different hazards at one time. In the presence of a toxic gas, half the viewing window will change color. The sensors require no power or calibration and can even be immersed in both fresh and salt water for up to an hour and retain their chemical detection capabilities. Morphix says the chameleon detects gases and vapors where other technologies will only detect hazards in liquid or aerosol forms.
The Chameleon was originally developed for the U.S. Marine Corps so was designed to withstand some punishment and work in hot and cold conditions. It was also designed to be worn over clothing and be configurable to meet the needs of specific missions.
But with the increasing risk of toxic gas exposure to first responders, Morphix Technologies is also touting the benefits of the Chameleon for firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel. In addition to dangers posed by backyard meth labs, Morphix points out that chemical suicide (sometimes called detergent suicide), which involves mixing common household chemicals to create a cloud of poisonous gas in an enclosed space, is on the rise. Sadly this is becoming more widespread in the U.S., with figures quoted by Morphix indicating that the number of chemical suicides in the U.S. doubled in the first half of 2011 compared to 2010 figures.
The company says that the most notable gas produced in chemical suicides is hydrogen sulfide, which produces the easily identifiable "rotten egg" smell in small quantities. However, in higher concentrations, the chemical paralyzes the olfactory nerves so the first response teams will no longer be able to smell it.
The Chameleon Chemical Suicide Detection Kit contains sensors for high pH (base), hydrogen sulfide, low pH (acid), phosphine, and sulfur dioxide, while a Clan-Meth Lab Detection Kit contains sensors for ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, iodine, low pH (acid) and phosgene. Sensors for chlorine/fluorine, diborane and hydrazine are also available and Morphix Technologies says it plans to introduce additional sensors in the future.