Sarin Gas: Health Effects of Chemical Weapons Potentially Used in Syria

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There is a possibility that the nerve agent, Sarin, has been used in Syria. Photo by Vardion

Sarin Gas in Syria – what is this nerve agent, and how can it hurt people?

Chemical weapons are dangerous and the National Public Radio, among other news media, reports that the rebels who are fighting against the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria may be using a chemical called sarin gas. Although the report has not been confirmed, it is a strong possibility that the rebels are using sarin gas according to the New York Times. There have been reports of injuries, but no word on the number of people affected by the chemical weapon attacks.

Nerve Agent: What Is It?

Nerve agents are the most toxic, and fastest-acting of all known chemical warfare agents, according to The National Terror Alert. Sarin, also known as GB, is a man-made chemical and was first made as an insecticide in Germany in 1938. According to the CDC, nerve agents including GA (tabun), GB (sarin), GD (soman), and VX are manufactured compounds. The G-type agents, including sarin, are colorless and tasteless liquids that can be mixed in water and almost all organic solvents. The CDC reports that GB (sarin) is odorless and is the most volatile of all nerve agents.

Sarin Exposure

You can be exposed to sarin in many different ways, including if the chemical is released into the air. If it’s in the air, you can breathe it in, or absorb it into your skin. If sarin is released into the water, on the other hand, merely touching the contaminated water or drinking it can result in exposure; this can also occur if food is contaminated with sarin. According to The National Terror Alert, if your clothes are exposed to sarin, your clothing can release the nerve agent for up to 30 minutes after you were exposed. This puts others at risk, as they can be contaminated as well.

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