Science Elements podcast highlights chemistry for search-and-rescue missions

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2014 — The June feature of Science Elements, the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) weekly podcast series, shines the spotlight on devices that use chemistry to locate people trapped in collapsed buildings. The episode is available at

Every second counts when people are trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building. As survivors breathe in a confined space, oxygen levels go down and carbon dioxide levels go up, a potentially lethal combination. People also can have severe injuries from the falling walls and other debris.

In the episode, Milt Statheropoulos, Ph.D., discusses work that he and colleagues across Europe have been doing on a project called “Second Generation Locator for Urban Search and Rescue Operations.” It includes an automated network of chemical sensors, as well as a portable device that rescuers can take into the field with them. Most recently, they developed a vapor, or scent, generator that workers can use to train rescue dogs.

Other recent topics of Science Elements podcasts include:

  • Beer made from fossilized yeast is ready to make a splash
  • A sustainable paint that repels barnacles
  • How new pressure sensors could lead to safer cars

New episodes are available on iTunes on every Monday and Wednesday and on the ACS website every Wednesday.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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