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Unformatted text preview: Chemical Warfare
Mike Coover Engineering Ethics Background
During the gulf war, the threat of Iraqi chemical weapons felt very existent, because it was acknowledged that Iraq had undergone extensive research on functionality of these weapons. In the stir of the September 11 terrorist attacks, this same threat feels very real again. A chemical weapon used in any large city could kill thousands upon thousands of people. Important Dates in History: 400s BC.: Spartan Greeks use sulfur fumes against enemy soldiers. 1907: Hague Convention outlaws chemical weapons although the U.S. does not participate. 1914: World War I begins; poisoning gas produces over 100,000 deaths and 900,000 injuries. 1936: Japan invades China using chemical weapons in war. German operated chemical labs produced the first nerve agent called Tabun. 1961: The Kennedy Administration starts to hike chemical weapons spending from $75 million to more than $330 million. 1989: Paris conference of 149 nations censures chemical weapons, urging a immediate ban to surface from the Geneva treaty negotiations. The U.S., however, disclosed planning to produce poison gas even after signing the treaty. 1991: The U.S. bombs at least 28 suspected chemical production or storage sites in Iraq during Gulf War. CNN reported "green flames" from one chemical plant and 50 Iraqi troops deaths from anthrax after an air raid on another site. An Egyptian doctor reports an outbreak of "strange diseases" inside Iraq. 1992: Reports increase of U.S. and Allied veterans of the Gulf War developing health problems. This involved an array of symptoms, jointly called the Gulf War Syndrome. (Blum) Chemical Weapons
Similar to a nuclear bomb, a chemical weapon is a weapon of mass destruction. A successful attack using a chemical agent can easily kill thousands and thousands of people. Chemical weapons use a manufactured chemical, such as previously mentioned, to cause casualties. The first chemical weapon used effectively was chlorine gas. Chlorine is not an exotic chemical being as most municipal water systems use it today to kill bacteria. It is easily manufactured from common table salt. (Marshall) Present chemical weapons lean to center on agents with much greater killing power. This implies that it takes less chemical to cause the same number of casualties. These newer weapons use the arrange of chemicals found in insecticides so next time you spray your garden with a chemical to control aphids (small insects), you are essentially interacting in a chemical war. (Marshall) Countless people have a tendency to imagine a chemical weapon as a sort of bomb or missile that releases toxic chemicals over a city. Chemical weapons can come in much smaller packages, such as in 1995, when the Japanese cult ,Aum Shinrikyo, released a nerve gas in the Tokyo subway by way of small exploding canisters. (Marshall) Cont.
A few known chemical agents used:
Sarin - a nerve agent, once inside your body, it affects the signaling mechanism that nerve cells use to communicate with each other. Sarin is also known as a cholinesterase inhibitor which clogs the cholinesterase enzyme, failing to let the nerve cells clear themselves of acetylcholine. Without this function, muscles begin to contract uncontrollably leading to eventual death by suffocation. Sarin is one of the most feared chemical agents. It is not extremely difficult to manufacture and it only takes ~1 milligram in the lungs to kill a person. (Marshall) VX - is almost identical to Sarin. VX works like Sarin only more toxic. Even the slightest contact on the skin will kill. (Marshall) Mustard Gas - Mustard gas has been around and in use since World War I. Blistering of the skin and destruction of lung tissue is its effects. It takes around 10 milligrams in the lungs to cause death. (Marshall) Lewisite Lewisite, a blistering agent, is also like mustard gas in its effects, and has been around since World War I. (Marshall) Cont.
Ways of Releasing Chemicals: Through the air A bomb or a missile explodes, spreading the chemical or biological agent over a wide area. A crop-duster or other aircraft sprays the agent over a city. A car or truck drives through the city spraying a fine mist along city streets in crowded areas. Small bombs or aerosol canisters are released in crowded areas like subways, sports arenas or convention centers. Through a municipal water supply Through the food supply (Marshall) http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=MGE_oMVJ50I Chemist Involved
Fritz Haber (1868-1934) 'The father of chemical warfare'. Haber began the use of poison gasses, like chlorine, in WWI. Fritz Haber developed Zyklon B as well as an agent that would later kill many members of his family. (His wife disliked the warfare research and was supposedly the reason she committed suicide). Victor Grignard (1871-1935) During WWI, Grignard was Haber's equal. He Worked in Paris on the manufacturing of phosgene for use as poison gas. Haber combined this with chlorine to get a more effective poison. Gerhard Schrader (1903-1990) `The Father of the nerve agents'. Gerhard was the inventor of nerve agents such as Tabun, Sarin, and Cyclosarin. The most famous agent, Sarin, was used by Iraq against Iran in the 1980-88 war. Louis Fieser (1899-1977) Invented a formula for napalm for military use in 1943. Napalm is well known because of its use in the Vietnam war by the U.S. (A Synthetic Environment) Is It Ethical
Food preserved in glass or tins is a chemical achievement. When the U. S. entered World War I, the dilemma of getting food across the Atlantic Ocean was as important as shipping men and fire arms. Meats were smoked, vegetables were dehydrated, vinegar was concentrated, fruits were dried, and coffee was condensed into dissolvable cubes. Though it is said, chemistry's most important contribution to World War I was chlorine, phosgene, mustard, etc.. All were discovered in peace time by non-military scientists, but was it helpful? What need was there for such agents? How did it transform into such a deadly weapon? Is chemical warfare and its chemist ethical? Reference Marshall, Brain. "How Biological and Chemical Warfare Works". September 27, 2001 <http://science.howstuffworks.com/biochem-war.htm> (May 27th, 2007) Blum, William. "Killing Hope: U.S Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II". March 1991 <http://members.aol.com/bblum6/Americanholocaust.htm> (May 27th, 2007) "Chemistry in Warfare." Time 3 June 1940. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,789825,00.html> (May 28th, 2007) "Top 5 Chemical Warfare Chemist." A Synthetic Environment. 17 April 2007 http://syntheticenvironment.blogspot.com/2007/04/top-5-chemicalwarfare-chemists.html (May 28th, 2007) ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course HIST 1 taught by Professor W during the Spring '08 term at Drexel.
- Spring '08