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Disaster Preparedness

Featured Article: Classes of Chemical Agents

Nerve Agents

Health Effects

  • Physostigmine cholinesterase inhibitors (reversible)
  • Organophosphorus cholinesterase inhibitors (irreversible)
  • Disable enzymes responsible for transmitting nerve impulses.
  • Initial effects of organophosphorus agents occur within 1-10 minutes of exposure
  • Death
    • Within 15 minutes for Tabun, Sarin, and Soman
    • From 4-42 hours for VX.

Agents Include

  • Tabun (NATO military designation, GA)
  • Sarin (NATO military designation, GB)
  • Soman (NATO military designation, GD)
  • GF (Cyclohexyl methylphosphonofluoridate)
  • VX (Methylphosphonothioic acid S-(2-(bis(1-methylethyl)amino)ethyl) O-ethyl ester)
  • GE (Phosphonofluoridic acid, ethyl-, isopropyl ester)
  • VE (Phosphonothioic acid, ethyl-, S-(2-(diethylamino)ethyl) O-ethyl ester)
  • VG (Amiton)
  • VM (Phosphonothioic acid, methyl-, S-(2-(diethylamino)ethyl) O-ethyl ester)

Blister/Vesicant Agents

Health Effects

  • Vesicants
    • Skin blisters
    • Damage eyes, mucous membranes, respiratory tract, and internal organs
    • Initial effects rapid
  • Mustard agents
    • Destroy different substances within cells of living tissue
    • Initial effects occur 12 to 24 hours after exposure.
  • Symptoms variable
  • Acute mortality low
  • Death can occur from complications after lung injury.

Agents Include

  • Lewisite (L)
  • Mustard-Lewisite (HL)
  • Nitrogen mustards (HN-1, HN-2, HN-3)
  • Phosgene oxime (CX)
  • Sulfur mustards ( H, HD, HT)

Blood Agents

Health Effects

  • Highly volatile
  • Rapidly acting
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cardiac arrest

Agents Include

  • Cyanogen chloride (CK)
  • Hydrogen cyanide (AC)

Pulmonary Agents

Health Effects

  • Liquids dispersed in gas form
  • Damage the respiratory tract and cause severe pulmonary edema in about four hours, leading to eventual death. Effects are variable.
  • Rapid or delayed depending on the specific agent.

Agents Include

  • Chlorine Chloropicrin (PS)
  • Diphosgene (DP)
  • Phosgene (CG)