2014 NCTC Counterterrorism Calendar The NCTC Seal
Sarin

Sarin is an extremely toxic substance whose sole application is as a nerve agent. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations according to UN Resolution 687, and its production and stockpiling was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. Sarin can be used as a binary chemical weapon, meaning two different substances which are easier and/or safer to store independently, then can be mixed immediately before use to create the desired chemical.

Sarin is similar in structure and biological activity to some commonly used insecticides. At room temperature, sarin is a colorless, odorless liquid. Its vapor is also colorless and odorless. It has a relatively short shelf life, and will degrade after a period of several weeks to several months.

Timely decontamination is imperative. Contaminated equipment should be cleaned using household bleach, caustic soda, dilute alkali solutions, or hot, soapy water. When equipment is located in a confined area, steam and ammonia or hot, soapy water may be used. Sodium hydroxide, an all-purpose decontaminant, also works well on sarin.

Dermal Exposure to Liquid

Onset

Minutes to hours

Symptoms

Mild Exposure: Increased sweating at the site of exposure; muscular twitching at site
Moderate Exposure: Same as above plus nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, generalized weakness
Severe Exposure: Same as above plus loss of consciousness, convulsions, generalized twitching, flaccid paralysis, lapses in breathing, generalized secretions, involuntary defecation

Exposure to Vapor

Onset

Seconds

Symptoms

Mild Exposure: Small pupils, runny nose, breathing constriction, secretions, slight lapses in breathing
Moderate Exposure: Small pupils, runny nose, breathing constriction, secretions, marked lapses in breathing
Severe Exposure
: Same as above plus loss of consciousness, convulsions, generalized twitching, flaccid paralysis, lapses in breathing, generalized secretions, involuntary defecation

Model of a Sarin Module
Model of a Sarin molecule

 

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