These agents are either lacrimators or vomiting agents.
Lacrimators or tear gases are essentially local irritants that act primarily on the eyes. In high concentrations, they irritate the respiratory tract and the skin. These agents are used to harass enemy personnel or to discourage riot action. The principal agents used are chloracetophenone (CN) and orthochlorobenzilidine malanonitrile (CS). Although CS is basically a lacrimator, it is considerably more potent than CN and causes more severe respiratory symptoms. CN is the standard training agent and is the tear gas most commonly encountered. CS is more widely used by the military as a riot control agent.
Protection against all tear agents is provided by protective masks and ordinary field clothing secured at the neck, wrists, and ankles. Personnel handling CS should wear rubber gloves for additional protection.
SYMPTOMS. Lacrimators produce intense pain in the eyes with excessive tearing. The symptoms following the most severe exposure to vapors seldom last over 2 hours. After moderate exposure they last only a few minutes.
TREATMENT. First aid for lacrimators generally is not necessary. Exposure to fresh air and letting wind blow into wide open eyes, held open if necessary, is sufficient for recovery in a short time. Any chest discomfort after CS exposure can be relieved by talking.
An important point to remember is that this material adheres to clothing tenaciously, and a change of clothing may be necessary. Do not forget the hair, both head and facial, as a potential source of recontamination.
The second class of agents in the riot control category are the vomiting agents. The principal agents of this group are diphenylaminochloroarsine (Adamsite (DM)), diphenychloroarsine (DA), and diphenylcyanoarsine (DC). They are used as training and riot control agents. They are dispersed as aerosols and produce their effects by inhalation or by direct action on the eyes. All of these agents have similar properties and pathology.
SYMPTOMS. Vomiting agents produce a strong pepperlike irritation in the upper respiratory tract with irritation of the eyes and lacrimation. They cause violent uncontrollable sneezing, coughing, nausea, vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise. Inhalation causes a burning sensation in the nose and throat, hypersalivation, and rhinorrhea. The sinuses fill rapidly and cause a violent frontal headache.
TREATMENT. It is of the utmost importance that the mask be worn in spite of coughing, sneezing, salivation, and nausea. If the mask is put on following exposure, symptoms will increase for several minutes in spite of adequate protection. As a consequence, victims may believe the mask is ineffective and remove it, further exposing themselves. While the mask must be worn, it may be lifted from the face briefly, if necessary, to permit vomiting or to drain saliva from the face piece. Carry on duties as vigorously as possible. This will help to lessen and shorten the symptoms. Combat duties usually can be performed in spite of the effects of vomiting agents if an individual is motivated.
First aid consists of washing the skin and rinsing the eyes and mouth with water. A mild analgesic may be given to relieve headache. Usually there is spontaneous recovery, which is complete within 1 to 3 hours.
A few words about screening smokes are in order since they fit in with, and complement, riot control agents. Their primary use is to obscure vision and to hide targets or areas. When used for this purpose outdoors, they are not generally considered toxic. However, exposure to heavy smoke concentration for extended periods, particularly near the source, may cause illness or death. Under no circumstances should smoke munitions be activated indoors or in closed compartments.
Symptomatic treatment to medical problems or discomfort resulting from exposure to screening smokes will generally suffice.
White phosphorus (WP) smoke not only obscures, but it also has a secondary effect upon personnel if burning WP contacts the skin. WP is a pale waxy solid that ignites spontaneously on contact with air to give a hot, dense, white smoke