List of chemical warfare agents

List of chemical warfare agents

A "chemical weapon agent (CWA)" is a chemical substance whose toxic properties are used to kill, injure or incapacitate. About 70 different chemicals have been used or stockpiled as chemical weapon agents during the 20th century. These agents may be in liquid, gas or solid form.

In general, chemical weapon agents are organized into several categories according to the manner in which they affect the human body. The names and number of categories varies slightly from source to source, but in general, types of chemical warfare agents are as follows:

Nerve agents

Nerve agents are chemicals that disrupt the mechanism by which nerves transfer messages to organs. The disruption is caused by blocking the acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that normally destroys and stops the activity of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Poisoning by a nerve agent leads to contraction of pupils, profuse salivation, convulsions, involuntary urination and defecation, and eventual death by asphyxiation as control is lost over respiratory muscles. Nerve agents can be absorbed through the skin, requiring that those likely to be subjected to such agents wear a full body suit in addition to a gas mask.

* Tabun (GA)
* Sarin (GB)
* Soman (GD)
* Cyclosarin (GF)
* VE
* VG
* VM
* VX
* Novichok agents

Blood agents

A "blood agent" is a chemical compound, that prevents the body from utilizing oxygen. CK and AC contain the cyanide group. They exert their toxic effect at the cellular level by directly interrupting cellular respiration (see "cyanide").

SA is the only true blood agent because it causes hemolysis of the red blood cells.

* Cyanogen chloride (CK)
* Hydrogen cyanide (AC)
* Arsine (SA)

Blister agents

A "blister agent" (or "vesicant") is a chemical compound that causes severe skin, eye and mucosal pain and irritation. They are named for their ability to cause large, painful water blisters on the bodies of those affected.


* 2-Chlorovinyldichloroarsine (Lewisite 1)
* Bis(2-chlorovinyl)chloroarsine (Lewisite 2)
* Tris(2-chlorovinyl)arsine (Lewisite 3)

Nitrogen mustards

* Bis(2-chloroethyl)ethylamine (HN1)
* Bis(2-chloroethyl)methylamine (HN2)
* Tris(2-chloroethyl)amine (HN3)

ulfur mustards

* 1,2-Bis(2-chloroethylthio) ethane (Sesquimustard; Q)
* 1,3-Bis(2-chloroethylthio)-n-propane
* 1,4-Bis(2-chloroethylthio)-n-butane
* 1,5-Bis(2-chloroethylthio)-n-pentane
* 2-Chloroethylchloromethylsulfide
* Bis(2-chloroethyl) sulfide (Mustard gas; HD)
* Bis(2-chloroethylthio) methane
* Bis(2-chloroethylthiomethyl) ether
* Bis(2-chloroethylthioethyl) ether (O Mustard)

Other blister agents

* Ethyldichloroarsine (a lewisite analog; ED)
* Methyldichloroarsine (MD)
* Phenyldichloroarsine (PD)

Pulmonary agents

A "pulmonary agent" (or "choking agent") is a chemical weapon agent designed to impede a victim's ability to breathe, resulting in suffocation.

* Adamsite (DM)
* Acrolein
* Bis(chloromethyl) ether (BCME)
* Chlorine (Cl2)
* Chloropicrin (PS)
* Diphosgene (DP)
* Methyl chlorosulfonate
* Phosgene (CG)
* Stannic chloride

Incapacitating agents

An "incapacitating agent" (sometimes "riot-control agent") is a chemical compund that produces temporary physiological or mental effects, or both, which will render individuals incapable of concerted effort. Most incapacitating agents have very little in common in terms of chemical nature or effects, but are groups as "incapacitating" by virtue of their reduced lethality.

Lachrymatory agents

A "lachrymatory agent" (or "lachrymator") is a group of incapacitating agents that irritate the eyes to cause tearing, pain, and even temporary blindness. The most common lachrymatory agents are tear gas and pepper spray.

* a-Chlorotoluene
* Benzyl bromide
* Bromoacetone (BA)
* Bromobenzylcyanide (CA)
* Bromomethyl ethyl ketone
* Capsaicin (OC)
* Chloracetophenone (Tear gas; CN)
* Chloromethyl chloroformate
* Dibenzoxazepine (CR)
* Ethyl iodoacetate
* Ortho-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile (Super tear gas; CS)
* Trichloromethyl chloroformate
* Xylyl bromide

Other incapacitating agents

* 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate (psychedelic; BZ)
* Hydrocyanic acid (paralytic)
* Diphenylchloroarsine (sternutatory; DA)
* Diphenylcyanoarsine (DC)
* KOLOKOL-1 (tranquilizer)


A "toxin" is a biologically produced substance that causes injury to the health of a living thing on contact or absorption, typically by interacting with biological macromolecules such as enzymes and receptors.
* Abrin
* Ricin
* Saxitoxin

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