31 May 2013, 12:09

What does sarin gas do to people?

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Sarin is a clear, colorless, odorless and tasteless liquid that has no odor in its pure form, used as a chemical weapon owing to its extreme potency as a nerve agent. It can evaporate and spread as a vapor into the environment.

People can be exposed to sarin through skin or eye contact, contamination of food and water, by breathing air, or through another person’s clothing – if they have been in contact with it.

When sarin enters a person’s body, it prevents glands and muscles from functioning properly. The resulting health effects are difficulty breathing, fatigue, blurred vision, excessive sweating, confusion and varying levels of heart rate and blood pressure. Exposure to a large dosage of sarin gas can result in paralysis and respiratory failure, leading to death.

Sarin has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687.

The first use of large-scale chemical warfare was on April 22, 1915 in Belgium when the German army killed or injured 5,000 Allied soldiers by releasing 150 tons of chlorine gas.

By 1937, German chemist Gerhard Schrader had developed an insecticide sarin, that the Nazis soon realized was a more toxic agent than chlorine gas. Though they did not use it in World War II.

In 1988, around 5,000 Kurds died at Halahbja after Iraq used both sarin and sulfur mustard.

In 1995 sarin was used in Tokyo subway attack in which the religious cult Aum Shinrykio used the chemical to kill 12 people and harm thousands more.

Voice of Russia, wikipedia.org, Fox News, the Atlantic

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