near-surface detonation, artillery munitions, bombs, or bomblets. Use of
these agents is primarily intended to cause casualties by entry into the
body through the respiratory system.
The agents may include
nonpersistent nerve, blister, blood, and choking agents, or a
Types of Chemical Agents
a. Nerve Agents
These agents directly affect the nervous system of man and are highly
toxic in both liquid and vapor form. Whether they are absorbed through
the skin or inhaled, the effects on the body are similar. Symptoms of
nerve agent exposure include a runny nose, tightness of the chest,
difficult breathing, excessive sweating, drooling, nausea, vomiting,
dimness of vision, pinpointing of the pupils of the eyes, convulsions,
and death. The vapor is readily absorbed by the eyes and by the tissues
in the nose and throat. The liquid readily penetrates the skin, eyes,
and tissues of the body.
Most nerve agents act quickly when inhaled, with some symptoms developing
within 1 to 2 minutes after inhalation.
They act more slowly when
penetration is by absorption through undamaged skin. When the eyes are
exposed to a nerve agent vapor, the pupils will become pinpointed.
However, pinpointing of the pupils may not occur for 10 minutes or more
after exposure to a very low vapor concentration. When the only exposure
to nerve agent is liquid contamination of the skin, the pupils may remain
normal or be only slightly reduced in size. The casualties caused by
nerve agents may range from mild disability to death, depending on the
dose received and the adequacy and speed of first-aid treatment.
b. Blister Agents
types are painless, other sting, and others cause the formation of
They may appear as colorless to dark brown, oily, liquid
droplets, but normally are invisible in the vapor form.
(1) In liquid or vapor form, these agents may burn or blister any
part of the body they contact, either internal or external.
The degree of damage depends on the type and concentration of
the agent, weather, degree of activity , and exposure time.
(2) They are effective even in small quantities and produce
A drop of mustard agent the size of a
pinhead can produce a blister one inch in diameter.
Unprotected troops exposed