CHOKING OR LUNG AGENTS
The toxicity of lung agents is due to their ef-
fect on lung tissues; they cause extensive damage
to alveolar tissue, resulting in severe pulmonary
edema. This group includes phosgene (CG) and
chlorine (Cl) as well as chloropicrin and diphos-
gene. However, CG is most likely to be en-
countered and its toxic action is representative of
Phosgene is a colorless gas with a distinctive
odor similar to that of new-mown hay or freshly
cut grass; unfortunately, the minimal concentra-
tion in air that can cause damage to the eyes and
throat is below the threshold of olfactory percep-
tion. Generally speaking, CG does not represent
a hazard of long duration, so that if an individual
were to be exposed to a casualty-producing
amount, he or she should be able to smell it.
There may be watering of the eyes, coughing,
and a feeling of tightness in the chest. More often,
however, there will be no symptoms for 2 to 6
hours after exposure. Latent symptoms are rapid,
shallow, and labored breathing; painful cough;
cyanosis; frothy sputum; leadened, clammy skin;
rapid, feeble pulse; and low blood pressure. Shock
may develop, followed by death.
Once symptoms appear, complete bed rest is
mandatory. Keep victims with lung edema only
moderately warm, and treat the resulting anoxia
with oxygen. Because no specific treatment for
CG poisoning is known, treatment has to be
Psychochemical agents, often referred to as
incapacitating agents, temporarily prevent an in-
dividual from carrying out assigned actions. These
agents may be administered covertly by con-
taminating food or water, or they maybe released
The characteristics of the in-
. High potency (i.e. an extremely low dose
is effective) and logistic feasibility.
. Effects produced mainly by altering or
disrupting the higher regulatory activity of
the central nervous system.
. Duration of action is hours or days, rather
than a momentary or transient action.
. No permanent injury produced.
The first symptoms appear in 30 minutes to
several hours and may persist for several days.
Abnormal, inappropriate behavior may be the
only sign of intoxication. Those affected may
make irrational statements and have delusions or
hallucinations. In some instances, the victim may
complain of dizziness, muscular incoordination,
dry mouth, and difficulty in swallowing.
The standard incapacitant in the United States
is 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate (BZ), a cholinergic
blocking agent, which is effective in producing
delirium that may last several days. In small doses
it will cause an increase in heart rate, pupil size,
and skin temperature, as well as drowsiness, dry
skin, and a decrease in alertness. As the dose is
increased to higher levels, there is a progressive
deterioration of mental capability, ending in
The principal requirement for first aid is to
prevent victims from injuring themselves and
others during the toxic psychosis. Generally, there
is no specific therapy for intoxication. However,
with BZ and other agents in the class of com-
pounds known as glycolates, physostigmine is the
treatment of choice. It is not effective during the
first 4 hours following exposure; after that, it is
very effective as long as treatment is continued.
However, treatment does not shorten the dura-
tion of BZ intoxication, and premature discon-
tinuation of therapy will result in relapse,
RIOT CONTROL AGENTS
Riot control agents is the collective term
used to describe a divergent collection of chemical
compounds, all having similar characteristics.
They are relatively nontoxic compounds, which
produce an immediate but temporary effect in
very low concentrations. Generally, no therapy
is required; removal from their environment is
sufficient to effect recovery in a short time.