Nerve Gas Survival Guide

Nerve gas attacks are deadly. Victims of an attack can often be seen foaming at the mouth.

What is it?

Nerve gas, also known as nerve agents, are weapons of chemical warfare comprised of phosphorus organic chemicals, known as organophosphates. It gets its name from the manner in which it disrupts nerve impulse transmission throughout your nervous system. They were classified as weapons of mass destruction by the United Nations in 1991, which outlawed their production and stockpiling in 1993 due to their devastating effects. The most well-known nerve agents are sarin and VX.

Where is it located?

Nerve agents were first used by the Germans in World War I and since then have been used in several wars throughout history. Massive amounts were also produced by the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, although the ban of these chemical weapons took place during the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 in order to prevent a tragedy from occurring. But regardless, the nerve gas sarin has been used in recent year in attacks in Syria.

How will it kill you?

Nerve gas can either be inhaled or absorbed through your skin, at which point it disrupts the nerve transferal mechanism to your organs by blocking the enzyme that destroys acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Symptoms appear as bodily convulsions, profuse salivation, and involuntary defecation and urination. The victim then loses control of their respiratory muscles, causing death due to asphyxiation.

How to survive:

There are three drugs that may be used to treat exposure to nerve agents. The first is through atropine administration. Although this is most effective, it’s also poisonous in its own right and can incapacitate the victim for an extended period of time depending on the amount of exposure. The second is with pralidoxime chloride, which is safer to use but takes longer to act. Lastly, you have butyrylcholinesterase. This prophylactic countermeasure is still in development, but it provides complete stoichiometric protection against all nerve agents.


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