Recognition of a Chemical Attack.
to cover large areas. Since the agents are likely to have no smell
and little or no color, you must learn other ways of recognizing
chemical hazards. To recognize the presence of a chemical agent you
must be able to identify the characteristics of different chemical
agents, factors that affect the persistency of agents, and the types
of munition systems used to deliver the agents on the battlefield.
Being alert for the agent symptoms or the delivery weapon are two ways
of protecting yourself and your unit against chemical attack. There
are also additional sources of information for determining that an
appearance of dead animals, or the appearance of oily substances on
a. Characteristics of Chemical Agents.
in either liquid, vapor, or aerosol form. These agents may be
Nerve agents directly affect the nervous system of humans and are
highly toxic. They occur in both liquid and vapor forms. Nerve
agents in liquid form are colorless to light brown. They usually are
odorless and tasteless. These agents may be persistent or
nonpersistent. The body may absorb these agents through any body
Upon dispersion of these agents as vapor, spray, or aerosol the body
absorbs them through the skin, the respiratory tract, or the eyes.
The body may absorb liquid nerve agents through the skin, the eyes,
the gastrointestinal tract, and the membranes of the nose and the
mouth. Local effects may occur, such as pinpointing of the pupils of
the eyes, but absorption of enough agent will cause systemic
(throughout the body) effects. These effects may include severe
muscular twitching and general weakness in all parts of the body.
The pupils pinpoint immediately on exposure to vapor
aerosol. However, delayed pinpointing of the pupils occurs
in the event of absorption of nerve agent through the skin
or ingestion of food or water contaminated with the agent.