Chemical Agents

Nerve agents are chemicals that interfere with the nervous system. Sarin, soman, tabun and VX are examples of nerve agents that all have similar effects.

Blister agents are chemicals that can damage skin, eyes and lungs. Some examples of blister agents include lewisite, nitrogen mustard, and sulfur mustard. Sulfur mustard (mustard agent) gets its name from the yellow-brown color of the oily liquid and its mustard-like (or garlic) odor.

Chlorine is shipped as a liquid in trucks and trains but quickly forms a gas when it escapes from its storage container. It is used widely in chemical manufacturing, bleaching, drinking water and swimming pool disinfecting, and in cleaning agents.

Unknown Chemical Exposure
A small chemical exposure can cause tearing eyes and burning of the eyes, nose, throat, chest and skin. It may cause headache, sweating, blurred vision, stomach aches and diarrhea. It is common for even mild symptoms from a harmful chemical to make people feel anxious. Once exposure is stopped, mild symptoms usually go away quickly.

Cyanides have long been known as poisons that inhibit aerobic respiration at the cellular level, preventing cells from utilizing oxygen. Although most cyanides are present as salts (sodium, potassium and calcium), two cyanides – hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and cyanogen chloride (CK) – are of military, and thus terrorist, interest.S

Ricin Toxins
Ricin is a potent protein toxin derived from the beans of the castor plant (Ricinus communis). Castor beans are ubiquitous worldwide, and the toxin is fairly easily produced. Ricin is therefore a potentially widely available toxin.

CDC Chemicals by Categories