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Chemical Warfare Weapons Fact Sheets
Mustard - HD Blister Agent
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Although first synthesized in the 1800’s, the Germans first used mustard in 1917 during World War I. Mustard (liquid) is colorless when pure, but is normally a brown oily substance. Mustard (vapor) has a slight garlic- or mustard-like odor. Mustard remains a health hazard for an extended period of time. Mustard is a toxic agent that is considered non-lethal by the Army. However, complications from mustard exposure can lead to death.

Signs and Symptoms

An individual exposed to mustard will feel very little pain and will not notice symptoms for quite some time. However, the longer the exposure without removal of the mustard agent, the more severe will be the damage to affected areas of the body. Mustard is a blister agent that affects the eyes, lungs and skin. The eyes are very susceptible, reacting to very low concentrations from mustard. Exposure to mustard on the skin can range from redness and inflammation to severe blisters and extreme soreness. Inhalation of the agent will cause irritation of throat, tightness of chest, hoarseness and coughing. If medical treatment is not received in the early stages of contamination, severe bronchopneumonia with accompanying high fever can occur.


There is no known antidote for mustard exposure; the process of cellular destruction is irreversible. Therefore, it is very important to remove the mustard as quickly as possible. The best means of removal is by flushing with water and household bleach, or washing with soap and water after using an absorber of mustard, such as flour.

Inhalation: Hold breath until respiratory protective mask is donned. Remove from the source. Immediately. If breathing is difficult, administer oxygen. If breathing has stopped, give artificial respiration. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should be used when approved mask-bag or oxygen delivery systems are not available. Do not use mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when facial contamination is present. Seek medical attention Immediately.

Eye Contact: Speed in decontaminating the eyes is absolutely essential. Remove the person from the liquid source; flush the eyes Immediately with water for at least 15 minutes by tilting the head to the side, pulling the eyelids apart with the fingers and pouring water slowly into the eyes. Do not cover eyes with bandages but, if necessary, protect eyes by means of dark or opaque goggles. Transfer the patient to a medical facility Immediately.

Skin Contact: Don respiratory protective mask. Remove the victim from agent sources Immediately. Immediately wash skin and clothes with 5% solution of sodium hypochlorite or liquid household bleach within one minute. Cut and remove contaminated clothing, flush contaminated skin area again with 5% sodium hypochlorite solution, then wash contaminated skin area with soap and water. Seek medical attention Immediately.

Ingestion: Do not induce vomiting. Give victim milk to drink. Seek medical attention Immediately.

Above Information Courtesy of United States Army

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