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The Facts about Sarin Nerve Gas.

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posted on May, 18 2004 @ 08:45 AM
With the Sarin Nerve Gas bomb in Iraq I thought that I would present the facts of Sarin Nerve Gas for ATS readers.
Sarin is a human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent. Nerve agents are the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents. They are similar to certain kinds of pesticides (insect killers) called organophosphates in terms of how they work and what kind of harmful effects they cause. However, nerve agents are much more potent than organophosphate pesticides. Sarin originally was developed in 1938 in Germany as a pesticide. Sarin is a clear, colorless, and tasteless liquid that has no odor in its pure form. However, sarin can evaporate into a vapor (gas) and spread into the environment. Sarin is also known as GB.

Where sarin is found and how it is used

Sarin and other nerve agents may have been used in chemical warfare during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Sarin was used in two terrorist attacks in Japan in 1994 and 1995. Sarin is not found naturally in the environment.

How people can be exposed to sarin

Following release of sarin into the air, people can be exposed through skin contact or eye contact. They can also be exposed by breathing air that contains sarin. Sarin mixes easily with water, so it could be used to poison water. Following release of sarin into water, people can be exposed by touching or drinking water that contains sarin. Following contamination of food with sarin, people can be exposed by eating the contaminated food. A person’s clothing can release sarin for about 30 minutes after it has come in contact with sarin vapor, which can lead to exposure of other people. Because sarin breaks down slowly in the body, people who are repeatedly exposed to sarin may suffer more harmful health effects. Because sarin vapor is heavier than air, it will sink to low-lying areas and create a greater exposure hazard there.

How sarin works

The extent of poisoning caused by sarin depends on the amount of sarin to which a person was exposed, how the person was exposed, and the length of time of the exposure. Symptoms will appear within a few seconds after exposure to the vapor form of sarin and within a few minutes up to 18 hours after exposure to the liquid form. All the nerve agents cause their toxic effects by preventing the proper operation of the chemical that acts as the body’s “off switch” for glands and muscles. Without an “off switch,” the glands and muscles are constantly being stimulated. They may tire and no longer be able to sustain breathing function. Sarin is the most volatile of the nerve agents, which means that it can easily and quickly evaporate from a liquid into a vapor and spread into the environment. People can be exposed to the vapor even if they do not come in contact with the liquid form of sarin. Because it evaporates so quickly, sarin presents an immediate but short-lived threat.

Immediate signs and symptoms of sarin exposure

People may not know that they were exposed because sarin has no odor. People exposed to a low or moderate dose of sarin by breathing contaminated air, eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, or touching contaminated surfaces may experience some or all of the following symptoms within seconds to hours of exposure:
Runny nose
Watery eyes
Small, pinpoint pupils
Eye pain
Blurred vision
Drooling and excessive sweating
Chest tightness
Rapid breathing
Increased urination
Nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain
Slow or fast heart rate
Low or high blood pressure
Even a small drop of sarin on the skin can cause sweating and muscle twitching where sarin touched the skin. Exposure to large doses of sarin by any route may result in the following harmful health effects:
Loss of consciousness
Respiratory failure possibly leading to death
Showing these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has been exposed to sarin.

What the long-term health effects are

Mild or moderately exposed people usually recover completely. Severely exposed people are not likely to survive. Unlike some organophosphate pesticides, nerve agents have not been associated with neurological problems lasting more than 1 to 2 weeks after the exposure.


[Edited on 18-5-2004 by BlackJackal]

posted on May, 18 2004 @ 08:51 AM
Very informative BlackJackal

You know the movie 'The Rock', does nerve gas like that exist?
Or is that just typical Hollywood.

posted on May, 18 2004 @ 08:57 AM
whoa, awesome work!

i never knew sarin could be transmitted so many ways. i thought the only way for it to get into you was through inhalation. also, i can't believe it was discovered so long ago! i figured it was a us/ussr cold war era creation.

posted on May, 18 2004 @ 09:12 AM

Originally posted by StationsCreation
Very informative BlackJackal

You know the movie 'The Rock', does nerve gas like that exist?
Or is that just typical Hollywood.

The Nerve gas in the movie The Rock is VX nerve gas; VX is not a Hollywood invention: it's the most deadly nerve agent in existence. Developed as a pesticide at the Chemical Defense Experimental Establishment at Porton Down, England in 1952, only 0.3 mg orally is fatal. A light brown odorless liquid similar in appearance to motor oil, it's three times deadlier than Sarin, the chemical used with devastating results in the Tokyo subway gas attack (and the gas hidden in the doll in the beginning of the movie). VX can be inhaled or absorbed by the skin. Upon exposure, the symptoms include tightness of chest, difficulty in breathing, convulsion, coma and death.

VX acts by interfering with the way muscles work. A muscle will only move by receiving an electrical signal from the brain (via a nerve) that tells it to do so. Between the nerve and the muscle there is a gap called a synapse, and for the signal to continue into the muscle it has to somehow jump that gap. This is done by the release of the chemical acetylcholine, which "carries" the impulse across the gap to the muscle, allowing it to contract.

As soon as the impulse has crossed the gap, another chemical, cholinesterase, is released and breaks down the acetylcholine, allowing the nerve to return to its resting state, ready for the next impulse it receives. VX nerve agent is a cholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it interferes with the production of cholinesterase. That prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine, allowing it to build up in the synapses. With nothing letting the nerve return to its resting state, it fires continuously, causing the muscles to move uncontrollably; the result is convulsion and the inability to breathe. For that reason, VX (and agents like it) are extremely effective against insects and rodents, which is why it was initially developed as a pesticide. Unfortunately, it causes the same effects in humans.

Since nerve agents can be absorbed through any body surface, upon exposure it is absolutely crucial that decontamination procedures occur at once. You can see those procedures in action at the beginning of The Rock. In that scene, Goodspeed and his assistant are working in a sealed booth, investigating a mysterious package sent from Bosnia; it opens and sprays Sarin over them both. As the Sarin, which, like any nerve agent can penetrate clothing, starts to eat through their protective suits (a little bit of creative license on behalf of the film-makers; see the Miscellaneous Notes page), the sprinkler system designed to wash the agent off their bodies fails to work. Before the Sarin comes in contact with their skin, they are told to inject atropine into their hearts as a preventative measure (a mistake: atropine should never be injected before exposure.)
The part of the nerve structure on the smooth muscle that responds to acetylcholine is called a muscarinic receptor. Atropine acts not by interfering with the formation of acetylcholine, but by blocking its effects, targeting the muscarinic receptors and preventing the acetylcholine from binding to them. If it can't bind to the receptors, the acetylcholine can't perform its function of transmitting the nerve impulse. If the nerve impulse can't get transmitted to the muscle, the effects of the nerve agent (uncontrollable smooth muscle movement) are halted.

At the end of the film, Goodspeed has been exposed to a sizable amount of VX. He quickly grabs a syringe full of atropine from his uniform, uncaps the needle, and drives it into his heart. While very exciting, this is not the way it's done in real life. In a real exposure situation, the person would be under extreme stress; it would be too difficult to even find the right part of the heart to inject (the heart is protected by the ribs; any injection would have to be aimed precisely in order to hit the mark).

Normally, the site used for atropine injection is the large muscle of the thigh. Failing that, any large muscle will suffice; the goal is to get the atropine to the muscarinic receptors as fast as possible. Seconds count, as the effects of the VX occur almost immediately.

The usual method of administering the atropine is by autoinjector, a pressure activated spring loaded device that automatically injects the drug through the clothes and directly into the system. The autoinjector is held against the thigh, pressure is applied, the needle is pushed into the muscle and held there for 10 seconds. It takes up to 15 minutes after the injection for the antidote to take effect. At that point, the first signs of atropinization occur: a dry mouth and rapid heartbeat. If those symptoms are seen, no further treatment is necessary (and in fact may be detrimental; atropine overdose can be incapacitating). If indications of nerve agent poisoning are still seen, then a second dose of antidote may have to be administered.

posted on May, 18 2004 @ 09:15 AM
You should post links that you get information from to credit the original source.


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