History of Use and Epidemiology of Mustard Compounds
Chemical warfare agents (CWAs) are synthetic chemicals that have toxic effects on plants, animals and humans. Sulfur mustard (SM) is one of blister agents which is synthesized by Belgian chemist Cesar Mansuète Despretz in 1822 for the first time. Victor Meyer, a Germania chemist, in 1886, completely described the chemical structure of SM. In the World War One, German army used SM for the first time against British soldiers in a field near Ypres Belgium. Nitrogen mustard (NM) was initially synthesized as a CWA, but has never been used as a chemical weapon. Different analogues of NM were made during the early twentieth century and some of them have been prescribed as chemotherapeutic medications. Spain was the first government that used SM against the Rif rebellion civilian in 1921–1926. Mussolini also ordered the Italian army to use SM against unprotected Ethiopian forces and civilian population in 1935–1936. Through 1963–1967, the Egyptian air force used CWAs and SM in Yaman. Although a large amount of SM was made during the World War II, fortunately it was not used during that war. Iraqi army used SM and other CWAs against Iranian forces and Iranian and Kurdish civilian in 1983–1988. The result of repeated Iraq’s chemical attacks during the 8 years of war was above 100 thousand casualties, of which almost 5000 were died. It was estimated that more than half of the chemical casualties were due to SM poisoning, but 32,000 of them have medical records and around 30,000 of them are now suffering from the delayed toxic effects of SM. The most tragic use of SM was the chemical bombardment of the city of Sardasht (a city in the northwestern border of Iran with Iraq) in spring of 1987 and Halabja (a Kurdish town in Iraq) massacre in 1988.
KeywordsSulfur Mustard Nitrogen Mustard Chemical Warfare Agents War History Iraq-Iran War Word War One Chemotherapy Blister Agents
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