Other Categories of Hazardous Chemicals

OTHER CATEGORIES OF HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS used as possible weapons of mass destruction include:

  • Nerve agents: These are highly poisonous chemicals that work by preventing the nervous system from working properly.
  • Biotoxins: These are poisons that come from plants or animals.
  • Blister agents/vesicants—chemicals that severely blister the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin on contact.
  • Blood agents: They are poisons that affect the body by being absorbed into the blood.
  • Caustics (acids): These are chemicals that burn or corrode people’s skin, eyes, and mucus membranes (lining of the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs) on contact.
  • Choking/lung/pulmonary agents: These are chemicals that cause severe irritation or swelling of the respiratory tract (lining of the nose and throat, lungs).
  • Incapacitating agents: These are drugs that make people unable to think clearly or that cause an altered state of consciousness (possibly unconsciousness).
  • Long-acting anticoagulants: These are poisons that prevent blood from clotting properly, which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding.
  • Metals: These are agents that consist of metallic poisons.
  • Organic solvents: These are agents that damage the tissues of living things by dissolving fats and oils.
  • Riot control agents/tear gas: These agents are highly irritating agents normally used by law enforcement agents such as the police for crowd control or by individuals for protection (for example, mace).
  • Toxic alcohols: These are poisonous alcohols that can damage the heart, kidneys, and nervous system
  • Vomiting agents: These are chemicals that cause nausea and vomiting.


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