AGeNtS OF DeATH
There are four major categories of chemical weapon, each targeting a vital bodily function.
Gases made from chlorine, sulfur, or arsenic burn any body part they touch. Used on the battlefield in World War I, their molecules bind to DNA inside cells, including the mucous membrane of the throat and lungs, leading to fluid buildup and deadly infection.
People need oxygen, and these cyanide-based agents halt the body’s ability to use it. These compounds are mitochondrial poisons. They stop cells from passing electrons to oxygen during cellular respiration. Victims die with brightred blood in their veins.
When inhaled, gases such as phosgene disrupt breathing by irritating and corroding the mucous tissues that line the nose, throat, and lungs. Denser than air, a phosgene cloud stays low, where it kills those unlucky enough to learn what it smells like: freshly cut hay.
Agents such as sarin target the nervous system. They allow the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to pile up, paralyzing muscles, stopping the lungs from inflating and the heart from beating. At high concentrations, some of them can kill in minutes.