Active, passive M8 use can help detect chemical agents

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Charles Walker
  • 8th Civil Engineer Squadron
For everyone who would love to know everything about the M8 detection paper, I just so happen to have that information.

M8 paper can be used one of two ways, active and passive. The active method is the act of taking a piece of M8 and placing it in a suspicious pool of liquid. The paper will immediately change colors.

The passive method is the placement on vehicles, equipment and around facilities. When placed on vehicles, there are some areas to avoid. Never place M8 paper near any area that can come in contact with petroleum products. Best placement for the M8 is on the four corners of the vehicles and equipment. Ensure you have M8 placed on each layer of plastic covering the vehicles or equipment. When placed around buildings, the paper should be at least 25 feet away, not under overhead cover, and it is recommended to be at least three feet off the ground. The M8 then sits and waits for contamination from the sky.

M8 paper changes a variety of colors. Yellow color changes indicate a presence of G-series nerve agents. Red is an indication of H-series blister agents. Blue means there is a presence of V-series nerve agents. When reporting the status of the M8 paper, only state the color change.

As with everything, there are some warnings to follow. Any paper that has color changes needs to be treated as contaminated. Petroleum and oil-based products can cause false positives on the M8. M8 has a shelf-life of 10 years. Wash your hands after using the M8.

M8 paper is a great piece of equipment to determine the presence or absence of chemical agents. It may one day save your life.