The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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August 22, 2013

What is a chemical weapon?

Experts generally recognize seven categories of chemical agents used to expose disable or kill people.

Choking agents: Injure the nose, throat and lungs. Inhalation causes lungs to bleed, drowning victim. Examples: Chlorine gas, phosgene gas

Blister agents: Severely burn and blister the skin or respiratory tract. Examples: Mustard gas, lewisite

Blood agents: Inhibit the ability of blood cells to absorb oxygen, causing suffocation. Examples: Cyanide compounds, arsenic compounds

Nerve agents: Enter body through skin or lungs. Rapidly disrupt the transmission of nerve impulses. Examples: Sarin, tabun, soman

Riot control agents: Eye, skin and respiratory-tract irritants. Can be fatal in concentrated doses. Examples: Tear gas (CS gas or CN gas)

Incapacitants: Cause psychotic disorders, including incapacitation and an inability to make decisions. Examples: LSD, BZ, PCP

Defoliants: Destroy vegetative cover and crops and can cause nerve damage. Examples: Agent orange, paraquat

Sources: Staff reports, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

 

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