What Are Chemical Weapons, Anyway?


There are three general kinds of blister agents: sulfur mustards, nitrogen mustards, and lewisite. They’re all compounds that cause severe irritation to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. Exposure can cause painful chemical burns and large water blisters that’ll make you look like the Toxic Avenger.

Mustard gas, a type of sulfur mustard, can be released as a liquid, solid, or vapor. It can smell like garlic, onion or mustard, but doesn’t necessarily look like the mustard people squirt on hot dogs or scrambled eggs (yes, apparently some deviants actually do that). It can be clear, brown, or yellow in liquid or solid forms. Exposure to sulfur mustards isn’t typically fatal. According to the CDC, it killed fewer than 5 percent of those exposed during WWI who received medical treatment. Symptoms begin to show themselves within 24 hours, not immediately.