Essay on Biology and Chemical Warfare

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Biology and Chemical Warfare


Chemical and Biological Warfare, use of harmful or deadly chemical or biological agents as weapons of war. These agents can kill many people and are considered weapons of mass destruction. Chemical weapons are made up of poisonous chemical compounds, whereas biological weapons are living microorganisms. Toxin weapons contain poisonous chemical products of living organisms and are sometimes classified separately. Chemical and biological weapons can cause injury in several ways. Most cause injury or death when inhaled, and some cause injury through contact with skin or through ingestion of contaminated food.

A chemical or biological attack usually involves dispersing agents into the air.
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Surface agents include phosgene gas, chlorine gas, hydrogen cyanide, and mustard gas. The principal action of phosgene, chlorine, and hydrogen cyanide occurs through inhalation. Phosgene is a choking agent that causes the lungs to fill with water, while chlorine destroys the cells that line the respiratory tract. Hydrogen cyanide blocks oxygen from reaching the blood. Mustard gas is actually composed of tiny droplets of liquid that are dispersed in the air, where they are inhaled like a gas. Mustard is a blistering agent that damages any surface it contacts, including the skin, eyes, and lungs. It may cause death by respiratory failure. See also Tear Gas.

Nerve agents act by blocking the transmission of nerve messages throughout the body. These agents include sarin, soman, tabun, and VX. All act by disrupting the normal action of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Whether inhaled or absorbed through the skin, a single drop of nerve agent can shut down the body's nervous system. The most powerful of this group is VX, but all can cause death within minutes after exposure. See also Nerve Gas.

Herbicides, such as Agent Orange, are chemicals that kill vegetation. Agent Orange was used during the Vietnam War (1959-1975) as a defoliant, destroying jungle leaves to

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