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Monday, November 15, 2010

CBRNE Threat - Blister Agents is continuing on with posts on Survival Threats posed by Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE).

For the record, we don't believe that foreign sponsored or terrorist executed CBRNE attacks on this country would be wide spread, but they would severely degrade the U.S. Government's capabilities for emergency management across the board (maybe that's a good thing?) as well as put local or regional infrastructures down for the count,...possibly a long count. But I do not envision most of us in the Survivalist community have to live through and/or operate in a CBRNE type environment. Least I hope not, but still want to be knowledgeable about the threat.

Blister Agents

A blister agent (also known as a vesicant) is a chemical compound that causes severe skin, eye and mucous membrane pain and (severe) irritation. Blister agents are named for their ability to cause severe chemical burns, resulting in large, painful water blisters on the bodies of those affected. Although these compounds have been employed on occasion for medical purposes, their most common use is as chemical warfare agents.

Most blister agents fall into one of three groups:

Sulfur mustards – A family of sulfur-based agents, including the so-called "mustard gas".

Nitrogen mustards – A family of agents similar to the sulfur mustards, but based on nitrogen instead of sulfur.

Lewisite – An early blister agent that was developed, but not used during World War I. It was effectively rendered obsolete with the development of British anti-Lewisite in the 1940s.

Occasionally, phosgene oxime (heard of phosgene gas?) is included among the blister agents.

Effects of blister agents can be devastating. Exposure to a chemical weaponized blister agents can cause a number of life-threatening symptoms, including:

Severe skin, eye and mucosal (mucous membrane) pain and irritation.

Large fluid filled blisters on the skin that heal slowly and may become infected.

Excessive tearing of the eyes, conjunctivitis (perpetual puss in the eyes), and damage of the cornea(s).

Respiratory distress, from mild to extreme with damage to your airway and lungs.

All blister agents currently known are heavier than air, and are readily absorbed through the eyes, lungs, and skin. Effects of the mustard agents are typically delayed: exposure to vapors becomes evident in 4 to 6 hours, and skin exposure in 2 to 48 hours. The effects of Lewisite are immediate.

Weaponized Chemical Warfare Blister agents, include these:

Blister Ethyldichloroarsine (ED)
Methyldichloroarsine (MD)
Phenyldichloroarsine (PD)
Lewisite (L)
Sulfur mustard gas (HD, H, HT, HL and HQ)
Nitrogen mustard (HN1, HN2, HN3)

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