c. Characteristics of Nerve Agents. Liquid nerve agents range from colorless
to light brown. Most nerve agents are odorless and tasteless. They range from
d. Absorption of Nerve Agents. Nerve agent in vapor form is primarily
absorbed through the respiratory tract. Small droplets (spray or aerosol) can be
absorbed through the skin or eyes or be inhaled. Liquid nerve agent can penetrate
ordinary clothing rapidly, but significant absorption through the skin usually requires a
If liquid nerve agent is absorbed through the eyes, the effects are felt
(2) If the nerve agent is inhaled, the effects may take from less than a
minute to several minutes to appear.
(3) If the nerve agent is absorbed through the skin in liquid form, there may
be a delay of from 3 minutes to as long as 2 hours before the effects of nerve agent
poisoning are felt.
e. Physiological Effects. Nerve agents interfere with the nerves' ability to carry
information and control the body's functions. This results in respiratory difficulties,
vision problems, headaches, loss of bladder and bowel control, convulsions, and mental
confusion. Severe nerve agent poisoning leads to unconsciousness and death. The
sign and symptoms present and the severity of nerve agent poisoning depend upon the
amount of nerve agent absorbed by the body and the route by which the nerve agent
entered the body.
Blood agents (cyanogens) interfere with the normal exchange of oxygen between
the red blood cells and the body's tissues. The central nervous system is especially
a. Types of Blood Agents. The principle blood agents are hydrogen cyanide
(AC) and cyanogen chloride (CK). Both are deadly and can produce immediate
b. Methods of Dissemination. Blood agents can be delivered by artillery shell,
mortar shell, rocket, aircraft spray, and bomb. Hydrogen cyanide can be disseminated
in either vapor or liquid form. Cyanogen chloride is disseminated as a vapor.
c. Characteristics of Blood Agents. Both AC and CK are colorless and are
highly volatile in liquid form. AC smells somewhat like bitter almonds. Cyanogen
chloride has a pungent, biting odor, but the odor may not be detected because of the
irritation caused by CK when it is inhaled. All blood agents are nonpersistent, but CK is