Effects Of Chemical Agents And Biological Agents essay example

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Luke Corrigan Per. 2 Chemical warfare What is Chemical Warfare: To understand chemical warfare you must first understand what a chemical agent is. A United Nations report from 1969 defines chemical warfare agents as '... chemical substances, whether gaseous, liquid or solid, which might be employed because of their direct toxic effects on man, animals and plants... '.

This means basically that any chemical that is used to directly effect and harm a person, plant, or animal would be an act of chemical warfare. Some commonly confused Chemical Agents: Agents such as napalm and phosphorus are not considered to be Chemical agents since they achieve their effect mainly through thermal energy. Certain types of smoke screen may be poisonous in extremely high concentrations but smoke ammunition is not classified as a chemical weapon since the poisonous effect is not the main reason for their use. Another common misconception is that biological agents such as viruses or microorganisms (small pox etc.) are considered a chemical agent, but this is not the case. Effects of chemical agents and biological agents may be similar but they different in production.

Chemical agents are created and biological agents are found naturally in nature or cultured for use. Different types of Chemical agents: Nerve Agents: Source: A FOA Briefing Book on Chemical Weapons Nerve agents acquired their name because they affect the transmission of nerve impulses in the nervous system. They are stable, easily spread, highly toxic and have rapid effects when absorbed through the skin and respiratory track. Nerve agents can be manufactured by means of fairly simple chemical techniques. The materials are inexpensive and generally readily available. It was not until the early 1930's that German chemists discovered the effects of certain phosphorus compounds to be toxic.

Two years later a phosphorus compound with extremely high toxicity was produced for the first time. This phosphorus compound, given the name tabu n, was one the first substances later referred to as nerve agents. Physical and chemical properties The most important nerve agents included in modern arsenals are: "h Tabu n, O-ethyl, This nerve agent is the easiest to manufacture. Therefore, it is more likely that developing countries start their arsenal with this nerve agent "h Sarin, isopropyl, a toxic substance mainly afflicting the respiratory system. "h Som an, , a moderately toxic substance which can be taken up by inhalation or skin contact. "h Cyclo hexyl, a gas or Liquid substance with low volatility which is taken up through skin contact and inhalation of the substance O-ethyl S-, a persistent substance Which can remain on material, equipment and terrain for long periods. Uptake is mainly through the skin. How it works A characteristic of nerve agents is that they are extremely toxic and that they have very rapid effect.

The nerve agent, either as a gas, aerosol or liquid, enters the body through inhalation or through the skin. The route for entering the body is of importance for the period required for the nerve agent to start taking effect. The route influences the symptoms developed and, to some extent, the sequence of the different symptoms. Generally, the poisoning works faster when the agent is absorbed through the respiratory system than other routes. This is because the lungs contain many blood vessels and the inhaled nerve agent can therefore rapidly diffuse into the blood circulation and reach the target organs. Antidotes Nerve agents have an extremely rapid effect.

If medical methods of treatment are to serve any purpose, they must be introduced immediately. In many countries, the armed forces have access to an auto-injector containing antidotes to nerve agents. It is so simple to use that the soldier can easily give himself or another person an injection. Mustard agents: Mustard agents usually cause burns and blisters.

However, since mustard agents also cause severe damage to the eyes, respiratory system and internal organs, they should be described as blistering and tissue-injuring agents. Mustard agents were produced for the first time in 1822 but the harmful effects were not discovered until 1860. Mustard agents were first used as during World War 1 and caused lung and eye injuries to a very large number of soldiers. Many of them still suffered pain thirty - forty years after they had been exposed. Symptoms: In the form of gas or liquid, a mustard agent attacks the skin, eyes, lungs and intestinal tract. The delayed effect is a characteristic of mustard agent.

A mustard agent gives no immediate symptoms upon contact and a delay of between two and twenty-four hours may occur before pain is felt and the victim becomes aware of what has happened. Symptoms of mustard agent poisoning extend over a wide range. Mild injuries consist of aching eyes with a heavy flow of tears, inflammation of the skin, irritation of the mucous membrane, hoarseness, coughing and sneezing. Normally, these injuries do not require medical treatmentAntidotesThere is no treatment or antidote which can affect the basic cause of mustard agent injury. Instead, efforts must be made to treat the symptoms. By far the most important measure is to rapidly and thoroughly clean the patient.

Tear Gas: Tear gases is the common name for substances which, in low concentrations, cause pain in the eyes, flow of tears and difficulty in keeping the eyes open. Tear gases are used mainly in military exercises and in riot control, etc., but have also been used as a method of warfare. Irritating gases have been used in war since ancient times but it was not until after the Second World War that a search for effective substances was started. Symptoms All tear gases cause almost instant pain in the eyes, a flow of tears and a cramping of the eyelids. Apart from the effects on the eyes, most tear gases cause irritation in the nose and mouth, throat, airways, and sometimes also in the skin. In situations of massive exposure, tear gas which is swallowed may also cause vomiting.

Antidote: The low amount of toxins in tear gas and the brief effects they have diminish almost immediately after leaving the infected area. There is no antidote for tear gasses. Military personnel carry gas masks in case of exposure. Ultimately chemical warfare is an important part of modern war. The effects of some of the agents are extremely harsh and deadly. Chemical warfare is an extreme act use mainly by third world countries". h Chin J, ed.

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