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Chemical Warfare and Terrorism

Uploaded by knoxville on Feb 22, 2004

Throughout history scientific advances have been both a means of helping and destroying society. In all of the three major scientific disciplines weapons of mass destruction have been created. In physics nuclear weapons were created, in biology viruses were created and turned into weapons, and in chemistry elements were mixed together to create poisonous gases and toxins. In modern times the most widespread uses of these types of weapons have been with chemical weapons because they are the cheapest and easiest to produce. The first large-scale usage of chemical weapons came during World War I, forty years later the Nazis used cyanide gas during WWII against Jews. The United States used Agent Orange against the Vietnamese, and later in the 1980’s the Iraqis gassed the Iranians and Kurds. In 1995 a religious cult let off a chemical bomb in a Tokyo subway, and currently the biggest fear of chemical weapons is from the possibility of their use in a terrorist attack.

There are a few different types of chemical weapons. The most dangerous type of chemical weapons are nerve agents that can cause death in seconds and are odorless and tasteless. Nerve agents disrupt the functions of the nervous systems and shut down all vital body functions. The most common type are blistering agents which were commonly used in WWI and cause most organic tissue that comes in contact with the chemical to burn and blister. Other types include choking agents, blood agents, and toxins.

Although some chemical weapons were developed as early as 1855 the first time they were used in battle to deliberately kill soldiers was during World War I. In 1915 the Germans launched their first chemical attack against the British. By 1918 at the end of the war almost a million people had been killed or injured by poisonous gases. The most common type of chemical weapon was mustard gas that was put on shells, which were fired at the enemy. Mustard gas is considered a blistering agent because it burns any part of the skin, lungs, or eyes that it comes in contact with.

After the horrors of gas attacks in WWI the allies and axis powers refrained from using any chemical weapons during battle. During this same time, however, the largest genocide in the history of the world was taking place with the use of chemical agents. The Nazis used chemical pesticides to kill millions of Jews...

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Uploaded by:   knoxville

Date:   02/22/2004

Category:   Chemistry

Length:   3 pages (784 words)

Views:   9969

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