Blister Agents: A Chemical Warfare Agents

1088 words - 4 pages

The use of Blister agents has been known for more than 150 years. Blister agents are the largely common Chemical warfare agents and are also known as vesicants. There are five known vesicants, which are, Sulfur Mustard (HD), Nitrogen Mustard (HN), Lewisite (L), Lewisite Mixture (HL), and Phosgene Oxime (CX). The two most know vesicants consist of Sulfur mustard, also known as Mustard gas, and Lewisite. It was once stated that, Sulfur mustard was the most commonly Blister agent associated with warfare and was in fact, the major cause of chemical casualties during World War I even though it was only used during the last year of the War. (Smith, 2002).
Sulfur mustard was first introduced by Germany in 1917. It caused 88 percent of deaths and was a vast factor in that specific disease affecting the majority of that specific geographical location. Sulfur mustard was also used during the Iraq-Iran War which took place from 1984 to 1987. During the Iraq-Iran War, there were between 40,000 and 150,000 casualties in result of chemical munitions. (Newmark, 2007).
Sulfur mustard is a Chemical Blister agent that does not affect the body immediately. It has a period of one to eight hours in which a person can be affected. Depending on the duration of exposure to Sulfur mustard, it will determine how long it will take for a person to heal from this exposure. It is imperative that medical personnel handling victims of Sulfur mustard protect themselves due to the fact that they can also become victims.
There are a few reasons why Sulfur mustard was used in a lot cases. First, it was extremely effective. Second, it forced the enemy to wear the needed protective equipment. Third, with forcing the enemy to wear some or additional protective equipment, it affected their ability to be fully functional and ready for combat. Last, with already affecting their ability to fight, the enemy would not be able to stay in the fight since they would be obliged to care and tend to the victims that were affected by Blister agents leaving them voulnerable.
In 1918, right before the end of the War, Americans had discovered lewisite which acts faster than mustard gas in its severity. During that same time frame, the United States were developing and producing Chemical agents. These agents included Chlorine and Phosgene Oxime (CX). Despite the production of the Chemical agents, the majority of the agents never made it to Europe. Americans were producing these Chemical agents to try and keep up with the Germans and their mass production of Chemical agents. (Taylor 1992)
According to Military medicine, there have been a few cases of U.S. Military members being exposed to Sulfur mustard. One case in particular, became the main severe mustard exposure of a U.S. Military member since World War II. It was the case of a Service member who sustained a 6.5 percent body surface area burn. His unit was tasked to dispose of munitions and they proceeded to use a shape charge to open it. The...

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