Signs and Symptoms of Exposure.Vomiting
agents produce a strong pepper-like irritation in the
upper respiratory tract, with irritation of the eyes and
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
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. Recovery is usually
spontaneous and complete within 1 to 3 hours.
SCREENING SMOKES.Screening smokes fit
in with 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.
circumstances should smoke munitions be activated
indoors or in closed compartments.
Symptomatic treatment of medical problems or
discomfort resulting from exposure to screening
smokes will generally suffice.
WHITE PHOSPHORUS.White phosphorus
(WP) is a pale, waxy solid that ignites spontaneously
on contact with air to give a hot, dense, white smoke
composed of phosphorus pentoxide particles. While
field concentrations of the smoke may cause
temporary irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat,
casualties from the smoke have not occurred in combat
No treatment is necessary, and
spontaneous recovery is rapid once the patient is
removed from the WP source.
White phosphorus smoke not only creates an
obscuring smoke, but it also has a secondary effect
upon personnel if it contacts the skin. When burning
particles of WP embed in the skin, they must be
covered with water, a wet cloth, or mud. A freshly
mixed 0.5 percent solution of copper sulfate (which
produces an airproof black coating of copper
phosphide) may be used as a rinse but must not be used
as a dressing.
The phosphorus particles must be
Epidemics arising from natural causes have
plagued military forces for centuries and in many
instances have determined the outcome of campaigns.
Recognition of this drain on personnel undoubtedly
has led to attempts to produce illness in epidemic
proportions, through pollution of water and food
supplies as well as through other means.
dissemination of disease-producing organisms has
never been employed on any significant scale as a
weapon of war.
Biological warfare has become a very real
possibility since World War II because of the advance
of knowledge in the various biological science fields.
Many countries have indulged in research on the use of
microorganisms as a weapon of war, and in the hands
of an unscrupulous enemy, antianimal and antiplant
agents could be powerful instruments of war, reducing
or destroying a nations food supply. In this chapter,
however, we are concerned only with agents that
would be effective against populations. Although their
effectiveness has never been established by actual use
in war, they are considered to have grave military
Biological warfare has certain aspects in common
with chemical warfare in that biological agents can be
dispersed in the air and travel downwind in the same
manner as a gas cloud. These agents may be inhaled
unless a protective mask is worn, and they may cause
disability or death. They are capable of contaminating
clothing, equipment, food, and water supplies. Some
types of agents may persist in the target area for
considerable periods of time.