Nerve agents are very poisonous chemicals designed to attack the nervous system.
They are classified as weapons of mass destruction, and can be dispersed from missiles, artillery shells, land mines, spray tanks, and other methods.
There are several nerve agents, including sarin, soman, tabun and VX.
Methods of exposure:
- Breathing air containing the agent in gas or droplet form
- Liquid or droplets coming into contact with the skin or eyes
- Consuming contaminated food or water
- Vapors from the clothing of a contaminated person
Symptoms of low to moderate exposure include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal cramps and diarrhea
- Small, pinpoint pupils
- Runny eyes and nose
- Blurred vision and aching eyes
- Uncontrolled drooling
- Excessive sweating
- Uncontrolled urination
- Tightness in the chest
- Rapid breathing
- Fast or slow heart rate
- High or low blood pressure
Large doses may cause:
- Uncontrolled muscle tremors and contractions
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory failure
How to respond if you are exposed:
- Leave the contaminated area quickly and seek fresh air. If the attack is outdoors, move to higher ground (because they are heavier than air, nerve agents sink to low-lying areas).
- Remove your outer clothing, taking care not to touch the outside of your clothing to your skin.
- If possible, seal the clothing in a plastic bag and set it aside for removal by authorities.
- Wash your body thoroughly with soap and water, preferably outdoors to avoid contaminating indoor facilities.
- Rinse your eyes out for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Quickly seek medical attention. Exposure to these agents can be treated with specific antidotes.