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Chemical Attack

Before | During | After

Chemical agents are poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids and solids that have toxic effects on people, animals or plants. Chemical agents may be odorless, tasteless and can be released through explosives or sprayed from aircraft, boats and vehicles. Some chemical agents may have an immediate effect (a few seconds to a few minutes) while others may have a delayed effect (two to 48 hours).

It might be possible for terrorists to obtain chemical warfare agents to harm people.  Examples are gaseous nerve agents such as sarin and VX, mustard agents such as sulfur mustards and nitrogen mustards and choking agents such as phosgene.

A chemical attack could come without warning. The following are some signs of a chemical release:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Eye irritation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Burning sensation in the nose, throat, and/or lungs
  • Evidence of a large number of dead insects or birds
  • Smell of rotten eggs or almonds.

For more information on chemical hazards, visit:

emergency.cdc.gov/chemical/index.asp