Agent Identification - Chemical

Blister (Vesicant) Agents

Blister agents (vesicants) include mustard or lewisite. Mustard may smell like garlic while lewisite smells like geraniums. Mustard may have a rapid absorption with delayed symptoms up to 18 hours while lewisite causes more rapid blistering. Symptoms may include: burning or irritation of the eyes and skin, cough and blister formation. Severe respiratory exposure may result in pulmonary necrosis and hemorrhage. Initial treatment includes removal from the contaminated environment, and decontamination with water and local wound care. The antidote for lewisite is a heavy metal chelator called British Anti lewisite (BAL).

Mustard was reportedly used recently in the 1980’s by Iraq against Iran and the Kurds.

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