While an agreement of 160 world nations, the Chemical Weapons Convention was ratified in 1997 which had the goal of eliminating state storage, production, and use of chemical weapons. To date, the United States has managed to destroy approximately 25% of its chemical weapons stores and is still actively working to eliminate the rest of its supply. However, while this endeavor has drastically reduced the usage of chemical weapons in war and state enforcement, it doesn’t necessarily remove the possibility of non-state entities producing and using chemical weapons for their own purposes.
But exactly how dangerous and threatening is the chance of chemical attacks or accidents in the U.S. today? In terms of purposeful chemical attacks, the danger is almost unheard of. Even in the cases of terrorism, domestic or foreign, chemical weapons are rarely used. The most recent instance of chemical threats that was even slightly tied to the U.S. was the use of chemical weapons in Syria. That isn’t to say that the threat of a chemical terrorist attack is unthinkable, or that it hasn’t happened since, but overall chemical threats from terrorism are rare. However, the danger of chemical spills is something that occurs much more often, such as with the 2014 coal-cleaning chemical spill in West Virginia.
In the event of a chemical attack or spill though, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has provided specific instructions and helpful guides for how to defend yourself against it and even detect it ahead of time. If the chemical is released inside of closed space your first goal is to find clean air as quickly as possible without passing through the contaminated area. Then you ought to remove and seal your outer clothing away before washing with soap and flushing your skin and eyes with water. After drying off and dressing again you should then seek medical attention even if not showing symptoms. There are a number of other guides for other circumstances in a chemical attack that you can find by following this pdf link:
Some of the most memorable biological threats are related to the mail. The 2001 Anthrax Attacks held the U.S. in fear of opening packages for a while, and for good reasons. However, the danger of terror attacks using anthrax or some other biological agent is almost nonexistent in the modern era. Instead, the new biological threat facing the U.S. is the sweeping anti-vaxxer movement. Due to misinformation and staunch anti-intellectualism in certain circles of the country nowadays, more and more parents are refusing to vaccinate their children out of unfounded fears that they create autism and other defects. While the fear is understandable, the choice to not vaccinate has led to a revival of long thought extinct biological threats such as smallpox and even the plague.
In this case, there is not much that you can do to protect yourself against this outside of limiting contact with unvaccinated families and throwing scientific research and reports debunking the claims of anti-vaxxers at anyone who has fallen for the rabbithole of misinformation. You can also make sure that your children have gotten all of their vaccines in order to protect others and create a safe, disease free community.
Out of all of the other threats, this is by far the most frightening one. There have been a number of viral outbreak scares over the years that have reached the U.S. Viruses such as the Zika virus, Ebola virus, and others have caused wide, sweeping panic for brief moments across the country before the news is forgotten. Currently there are no signs of Zika or Ebola anywhere in the United States while they are still large and dangerous threats to many other countries in Europe and Africa. In the case of outbreaks like this, there is little you can do and oftentimes little you will have to do as the country’s doctors are swift to control any outbreak.
However, one new and growing viral threat is the emergence of bacteria and viruses with antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Due to a decade’s long overuse and misues of anitbiotics, strains of bacteria and viruses have emerged with AMR that are immune to normal antibiotics. Unfortunately, research into these new strains is new and experimental, so there is no defined method of dealing with them at the individual level. Your best option is to protect yourself from infection by keeping a diligent cleaning regimen and avoid undercooked/unsanitary food.
Article written by Nicholas Oetken, writer for Survival Gear Systems, Guns.com, and many more top survivalist websites.