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Commonly Known Chemical Weapons Agents

Sarin

  • Description. Sarin is a nerve agent that is clear, colorless, tasteless, and odorless. It's a highly volatile chemical and is mainly an inhalation threat.
  • Effects. Symptoms of sarin poisoning include runny nose, tightness of chest, dimmed vision, breathing difficulty, drooling, excessive sweating, nausea and vomiting, involuntary bowel movement and urination, involuntary muscle movements, headache, confusion, and drowsiness. If untreated, victims stop breathing and die. Antidotes are atropine and pralidoxmine. Eyes and skin should be flushed thoroughly if exposed.

Soman

  • Description. Soman is a nerve agent that is clear, colorless and tasteless, and can have a slight camphor odor or none at all. It can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or ingested orally. Nerve agents act very quickly in vapor form; longer in liquid form.
  • Effects. Symptoms include runny nose, tightness of chest, dimmed vision, breathing difficulty, drooling, excessive sweating, nausea and vomiting, involuntary defecation and urination, involuntary muscle movements, headache, confusion, and drowsiness. If untreated, victims stop breathing and die. Antidotes are atropine, pralidoxmine, and pyridostigmine. Eyes and skin should be flushed thoroughly if exposed.

Tabun

  • Description. Tabun is a nerve agent that is clear, colorless, tasteless, and can have a slight fruity odor or none at all. It can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or ingested. Nerve agents act very quickly in vapor form; longer in liquid form.
  • Effects. Symptoms include runny nose, tightness of chest, dimmed vision, breathing difficulty, drooling, excessive sweating, nausea and vomiting, involuntary bowel movement and urination, involuntary muscle movements, headache, confusion, and drowsiness. If untreated, victims stop breathing and die. Antidotes are atropine and pralidoxmine chloride. Eyes and skin should be flushed thoroughly if exposed.

VX

  • Description. The nerve agent VX is an oily liquid that is clear, odorless, and tasteless, and looks similar to motor oil. Effects of VX poisoning may occur within minutes or hours depending on how much a victim was exposed to.
  • Effects. Symptoms include visual problems, headache, runny nose and nasal congestion, salivation, tightness of chest, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, confusion, involuntary muscle movements, and involuntary bowel movement and urination. Severe exposure can lead to convulsions and respiratory failure. Antidotes are atropine and pralidoxmine. Eyes and skin should be flushed thoroughly if exposed.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 03, 2012

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