What is a chemical weapon? Types of chemical weapons

What is a chemical weapon? Something terrifying and frightening. This is a weapon of extremely large destructive capacity, which is capable of inflicting massive casualties on vast areas. It can take thousands of lives in the most inhuman way. After all, the basis of the action of chemical weapons are toxic substances that, getting into human organisms, destroy them from the inside.

what is a chemical weapon

A bit of history

Before delving into the question of what chemical weapons are, it is worth making a brief excursion into the past.

Even before our era, it was known that certain toxic substances can cause the death of animals and people. This is known and used for personal purposes. However, in the XIX century, these substances began to be used during large-scale military operations.

But, nevertheless, the "official" appearance of chemical weapons, as the most dangerous means of warfare, belongs to the times of the First World War (1914-1918).

The battle was of a positional nature, and this forced the warring to look for new types of weapons. The German army decided to massively attack the positions of opponents through the use of suffocating and poisonous gases. That was in 1914. Then, in April 1915, the army repeated the attack, but applied chlorine poisoning.

More than a hundred years have passed, but the principle of operation of this type of weapon is the same - people are simply inhuman and cruel.

"Delivery" of shells

Talking about the use of chemical weapons, it is worth noting attention and how the process itself. For its “delivery” to the targets, carriers, devices and control devices are used.

Means of application include rockets, gas-jet guns, artillery shells, aerial bombs, mines, a balloon gas-launch system, poured out devices, checkers, grenades. In principle, everything is the same that helps to use nuclear weapons. Chemical and biological are delivered in exactly the same way. So they are not only similar in their power.

 chemical weapons

Physiological classification

Types of chemical weapons are distinguished by several characteristics.And the method of influence on the human body is the main one. Allocate toxic substances:

  • With nerve damage. Affect the nervous system. Purpose: quick and massive disabling of personnel. Substances include: V-gases, herd, soman and sarin.
  • With blistering action. It affects through the skin. Happen in aerosols and sprays - then they act through the respiratory organs. For this purpose, lewisite and mustard are used.
  • With common toxic action. Get into the body and disrupt oxygen metabolism. Substances of this type are among the fastest. These include chlorocyanin and hydrocyanic acid.
  • With a choking effect. It affects the lungs. For this, diphosgene and phosgene are used.
  • With psychochemical action. Aimed at disabling enemy manpower. They affect the central nervous system, cause temporary deafness, blindness, limit motor function. Substances include - quinuclidyl-3-benzylate and lysergic acid diethylamide. They violate the psyche, but do not lead to death.
  • With an annoying action. They are also called irritants. Act quickly, but not for long. Maximum - 10 minutes.These include tear substances, sneezing, irritating airways. There are those in which several functions are combined.

It should be noted that the irritating substances in many countries are armed with the police. So they are classified as non-lethal weapons. A vivid example is a gas canister.

chemical weapon damage factors

Tactical classification

There are only two types of chemical weapons:

  • Fatal. Substances of this type include agents that destroy living force. They have a suffocating, common poisonous, blister-skin and nerve-paralytic action.
  • Temporarily incapacitated. Substances of this type include irritants and incapacitants (psychotropic drugs). They disable the enemy for a certain period. At least for a couple of minutes. As a maximum - for a few days.

But it is important to note that non-lethal substances can cause death. It is worth remembering the war in Vietnam (1957-1975). The US Army did not disdain to use various gases, among which was also orthochloro benzylidene malononitrile, bromoacetone, adamsite, etc. The US military claims that they used non-lethal concentrations.But, according to other information, the gas was used in such conditions in which it leads to death. In a confined space, that is.

Impact speed

Two more criteria according to which the weapon of chemical destruction is classified. According to the speed of impact, it can be:

  • High-speed. These are irritating substances, common toxic, nerve agents and psychotropic.
  • Slow-moving. These include suffocating, skin-tearing and some psychotropic.

Impact resistance

Here, too, there are two types of chemical weapons. Substances may have:

  • Short term action. That is, to be volatile or unstable. Their striking effect is calculated in minutes.
  • Long term action. It lasts at least several hours. The effect of particularly strong substances can last for weeks.

It should be noted that the damaging factors of chemical weapons should still work. Toxic substances do not always work. For example, in the course of the First World War, for their use it was necessary for weeks to wait for the occurrence of suitable weather conditions.

And this, of course, a plus.The historian and member of the Scientific Council of the RGVIA Sergey Gennadievich Nelipovich said that it was precisely the low effectiveness of these weapons that led to the so-called "quiet" refusal to use them.

use of chemical weapons

Binary ammunition

About them not to mention, talking about what chemical weapons. Binary ammunition is a variety of it.

Such an instrument is a munition, which stores several (two, as a rule) precursors. So called components, the reaction of which leads to the formation of the target substance. In ammunition, they are stored separately, and react (synthesized) after discharge.

At this point, when mixing the two components, a chemical reaction occurs, as a result of which a poisonous substance is formed.

Like the use of the notorious chemical weapons, such ammunition is prohibited internationally. In some countries, it is even forbidden to manufacture reagents with the help of which such an instrument could be created. It is logical, because binary ammunition is aimed at the destruction of vegetation, the defeat of people, as well as constraining the work of institutions and objects.


This is a chemical weapon that attacks vegetation. And once again recalling the theme of the Vietnam War, it is worth noting that the American army used as many as three recipes. They used "blue", "white" and "orange" phytotoxicants.

Substances of the latter type were the most dangerous. Dioxin, a polychlorinated dibenzodioxin, was used in their manufacture. This substance has a slow and cumulative effect. It is dangerous in that the signs of poisoning manifest themselves in a few days, sometimes months, and sometimes even after many years.

Applying phytotoxicants, the US Army greatly facilitated the process of aerial reconnaissance. Agricultural crops and vegetation along roads, power lines and canals were destroyed, so it became easy to hit Vietnamese objects.

Naturally, the use of phytotoxicants caused irreparable harm to the ecological balance of the region and the health of the local population. Of course, almost 50% of the forests and acreage were destroyed.

chemical weapons factors

Mustard gas

Chemical weapons are very numerous. Do not list everything. But some of them deserve special attention.

Mustard is a dark brown, oily liquid with a smell reminiscent of mustard and garlic. His couples infect the lungs and respiratory tract, and getting inside, he burns the digestive organs.

Mustard gas is dangerous because it does not appear immediately - only after some time. All this time he has a hidden effect. If, for example, a drop of mustard gas falls on the skin, then it will immediately be absorbed into it without pain or any other sensations. But after a couple of hours, the person will feel an itch and notice the redness. A day later, the skin will be covered with small blisters, which then merge into huge blisters. They will break through in 2-3 days and reveal ulcers, which will take months to heal.

Hydrocyanic acid

Hazardous substance, in high concentrations, smelling deceptively pleasant smell of bitter almond. It evaporates easily and exerts its deadly effect only in the vapor state.

The person who has inhaled hydrocyanic acid, first of all, feels a metallic taste in the mouth. Then there is throat irritation, weakness, nausea, dizziness. These manifestations quickly give way to agonizing dyspnea. The pulse starts to slow, the person loses consciousness.His body is shackled by convulsions, which are quickly replaced by complete relaxation of muscles that have already lost sensitivity by that moment. Body temperature drops, breathing is depressed, and eventually stops. Cardiac activity stops after 3-7 minutes.

There is an antidote. But it must still have time to apply. The use of colloidal sulfur, aldehydes, methylene blue, salts and esters of nitrous acid, as well as ketones and polythionates can save life.

 chemical weapons striking

Chemical weapons as a method of terrorist attack

One of the most famous terrorist attacks is what happened on March 20, 1995 in Tokyo. But before remembering this terrible story, it is necessary for a better understanding of the topic to tell what sarin is.

This nerve agent has already been mentioned above. Sarin has an organophosphate origin. This is the third most powerful poison after the soman and cyclosarin G-series.

Sarin is a colorless liquid with a faint smell of flowering apple trees. With high pressure, it evaporates and after 1-2 minutes affects everyone who inhales it.

So, on March 20, 1995, five unknown people, each of whom had a bag of sarin in their hands, went down the subway. They were distributed among the compositions and pierced them, freeing sarin outside.The fumes quickly spread through the metro. One tiny drop is enough (0.0005 mg / l) to kill an adult. And each terrorist had two packages of 1 l.

That is 10 liters of sarin. Unfortunately, the attack was perfectly planned. The terrorists knew exactly what chemical weapons are and how they operate. According to official data, 5,000 people came down with the most severe poisoning, 12 of them died.

Chemical protection

About her, too, need to say a few words. The use of chemical weapons is detrimental, so that various sets of measures aimed at weakening (and better preventing) their effects on people are necessary. Here are the main tasks:

  • Promptly detect signs of chemical contamination.
  • Alert the public about the danger.
  • Protect people, animals, food, drinking water, cultural and material values.
  • Eliminate the effects of infection.

For the salvation of people use personal protective equipment. If the situation is an emergency - everyone is collected and taken out of the zone of chemical contamination. Control is ongoing. For this purpose, chemical reconnaissance devices are used.Everything is aimed at preventing the emergence of a state of emergency of this nature.

Even if suddenly at any object (at the plant, for example) there is a threat of an accident, the action of which is comparable to chemical weapons, the first thing that is done in such a situation is that the personnel and the public are notified and then evacuated.

first chemical weapons

Elimination of consequences

The damaging factors of chemical weapons are very difficult to eliminate. The elimination of consequences is a complex and time-consuming process. For its implementation resort to:

  • Carrying out urgent restoration work aimed at stopping the release of toxic substances (agents).
  • Localization of sites where liquid agents were applied. Usually this happens through their obvalovaniya. Either the liquid is collected in special traps.
  • Installation of water curtains in places of distribution of agents.
  • Device fire curtains.

Naturally, if chemical weapons factors were discovered, then rescuers should assist people. Skillfully put on gas masks on them, remove the victims from the lesions, perform artificial respiration or an indirect heart massage, neutralize the traces of agents on the skin, and wash the eyes with water. In general, to provide all possible assistance.

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