Chemical Warfare – Mustard Gas

Mustard gas was used in World War 1 (WWI) by the Germans to attack the Brits & Canadians. This is how to treat the burns.

What is it?

Mustard gas, or sulfur mustard, is a poisonous gas that causes an extremely powerful blistering effect on its victims in chemical warfare. It gets its name from the yellow appearance with a mustard-like smell. Mustard gas is believed to have been developed as early as 1822. It was effectively used a weapon for the first time by the Germans in World War I. They used it against the British and Canadian soldiers in Ypres, Belgium.

Where is it located?

These days, mustard gas is no longer used in wars due to the prohibition of chemical warfare by the Geneva Protocol of 1925 and the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. In addition, the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency has taken the responsibility of storing and incinerating mustard gas.

How will it kill you?

Aside from its blistering effects, mustard gas leaves lasting effects on your health. It can cause cancer and mutations on your body and in your DNA. Symptoms of mustard gas are not immediate, although they start to appear within 24 hours of exposure. Victims first experience intense skin irritation and itching. This then turns into large blisters, filled with yellow fluid in the areas the gas made contact with the skin. It can also cause first, second, and third degree burns, depending on the level of contamination. If it was inhaled, bleeding and blistering may occur within the respiratory system. Death occurs anywhere from days to weeks after exposure, but only among victims who have experienced the most severe burns.

How to survive:

The skin-damaging effects from mustard gas can be reduced with the application of povidone-iodine. The blistering can be neutralized through oxidation or chlorination with the use of household bleach. After this initial decontamination, the victim’s wounds can then be treated in a similar fashion to that of a conventional burn. But because sulfur mustard is both carcinogenic and mutagenic, recovered victims still have an increased risk of developing cancer later on in their lives.


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