A chemical threat is the result of poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids, and solids being dispensed into the air or water ways that has a toxic effect on people, animals, or plants.
Chemical poisons are primarily used in war, terrorism and riot control and can be dispensed through bombs, sprayed from aircraft, boats, and vehicles or shot out of some type of projectile.
Several things you should keep in mind about chemical threats:
Chemical warfare agents are substances intended for use in military operations to kill, seriously injure or incapacitate people because of its physiological effects. Excluded from this definition are riot control agents, herbicides, smoke, and flame.
Top 3 agents used for chemical terrorism:
The nerve agents are a group of particularly toxic chemical warfare agents. They were developed just before and during World War II and are related chemically to the organophosphorus insecticides. The principle agents in this group are tabun, sarin and methylphosphonothioic acid.
Blister or Vesicant Agents
Blister or vesicant agents are likely to be used both to produce casualties and to force opposing troops to wear full protective equipment thus degrading fighting efficiency, rather than to kill, although exposure to such agents can be fatal. Blister agents can be thickened in order to contaminate terrain, ships, aircraft, vehicles or equipment with a persistent hazard.
Vesicants burn and blister the skin or any other part of the body they contact. They act on the eyes, mucous membranes, lungs, skin and blood-forming organs. They damage the respiratory tract when inhaled and cause vomiting and diarrhea when ingested. Types of vesicant agents are sulfur mustard and nitrogen mustard.
"Chemical agents which attack lung tissue, primarily causing pulmonary edema, are classed as lung damaging agents", according to the Federation of American Scientists.(http://www.fas.org/programs/bio/chemweapons/cwagents.html#b04) On that page, they state that the types of choking agents are phosgene, diphosgene, chloropicrin and chlorine.
Toxic Chemicals can have an immediate effect (seconds to minutes) or a delayed effect (2-48 hours).
Signs of a chemical release include people having difficulty breathing; experiencing eye irritation; losing coordination; becoming nauseated; or having a burning sensation in the nose, throat, and lungs.
Also, the presence of many dead insects or birds may indicate a chemical agent release.
If you are instructed to remain in your home or office building, you should:
Decontamination is needed within minutes of exposure to minimize health consequences. Do not leave the safety of a shelter to go outdoors to help others until authorities announce it is safe to do so.
A person affected by a chemical agent requires immediate medical attention from a professional. If medical help is not immediately available, decontaminate yourself and assist in decontaminating others.
Proceed to a medical facility for screening and professional treatment.
Federation of American Scientists - Types of Chemical Weapons
FEMA - Chemical Attacks
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