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nerve gas

nerve gas, any of several poison gases intended for military use, e.g., tabun, sarin, soman, and VX. Nerve gases were first developed by Germany during World War II but were not used at that time. These gases generally cause death by asphyxiation, often preceded by such symptoms as blurred vision, excessive salivation, and convulsions. Physiologically, the toxic effect of nerve gases arises because they inactivate the enzyme cholinesterase, which normally controls the transmission of nerve impulses; the impulses continue without control, causing breakdown of respiration and other body functions. Atropine is an effective antidote against most nerve gases. See also chemical warfare.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on nerve gas from Infoplease:

  • nerve gas: meaning and definitions - nerve gas: Definition and Pronunciation
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  • soman - soman soman, colorless liquid used as a nerve gas. It boils at 167°C, evolving an odorless ...
  • tabun - tabun tabun , liquid chemical compound used as a nerve gas. It boils at 240°C with some ...
  • VX - VX VX , nerve gas several times more toxic than sarin but less volatile. It kills within minutes if ...

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