Oct 3, 2007

Vast Chemical Weapon Stockpiles Never Used in World Wars

By 1918, the U.S. was producing more chemical weapons than any of the other major combatants. In addition to mustard and other gases used on the battlefield, the U.S. developed and manufactured an organic arsenic compound that became known as Lewisite, named for Captain W. Lee Lewis who first determined its structure of a compound synthesized by Father Julius Nieuwland 15 years earlier. He mixed acetylene and arsenic trichloride with nearly suicidal result.
In the years between the World Wars, most military leaders were averse to using chemical weapons, but decided they needed to have these weapons in case the other side used them. So most of the major combatants in World War II built up stockpiles of chemical weapons that were never used. As was true in World War I, the only Lewisite casualties in World War II were plant workers who made the poison and soldiers who "volunteered" to test the weapons.
Lewisite: Never-Used Chemical Weapon
Becomes Hazardous Waste
Chemical Engineering Progress
December 2005

1 comment:

Allen Hengst said...

Chemical Heritage News Magazine Summer 2006, Vol. 24, No. 2:

"[Sergeant George] Temple in the 1965 interview also described how 'hundreds and hundreds' of stray dogs were gassed at the AUES as well as some monkeys. Soldiers tied the animals to stakes, exposed them to chemical bombs, and watched them struggle and usually die. The carcasses were then shaved and dissected to determine exactly how the gases affected the animals’ physiology. The lewisite animal tests indicated that the first symptoms were blinking and tearing of the eyes followed by nasal secretion, retching, and vomiting. Next, the animals (generally dogs) salivated excessively, and their eyes became inflamed. Their nostrils clogged, and they coughed incessantly. Many died at this stage. If the dogs continued to survive, they sneezed violently with fluid continuously flowing from their nostrils. More dogs succumbed during this period. If an animal survived beyond the fifth day, it generally recovered by the tenth day ..."


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