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Review of Acute Human-Toxicity Estimates for Selected Chemical-Warfare Agents (1997)

Chapter: Appendix Offensive Versus Defensive Use of Human-Toxicity Estimates for CW Agents

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix Offensive Versus Defensive Use of Human-Toxicity Estimates for CW Agents ." National Research Council. 1997. Review of Acute Human-Toxicity Estimates for Selected Chemical-Warfare Agents. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5825.
Page 80

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APPENDIX 80 Appendix Offensive Versus Defensive Use of Human- Toxicity Estimates for CW Agents Perhaps the single most important factor to consider about many of the existing human estimates is that they appear to have been developed primarily for offensive purposes. This is summarized in the following paragraphs excerpted from Silver's (1953) report on GB (CDEPAT 1994): While it is possible to calculate, on a fairly logical basis, an LCt50 for resting man, it is not possible to give a single figure for the LCt50 which would apply to all other states of activity. The actions of soldiers in combat are so varied and unpredictable that the respiratory minute volume at the moment of chemical attack would be quite impossible to determine. At the risk of over-simplification, this problem can be solved for all practical purposes. Offensive tactics, to be successful, must be designed to produce the highest Cts necessary to cause casualties in all possible combat situations. In the case of toxic gas warfare, the highest LCt50 is required for resting men since their minute volume is the least. For all offensive calculations, therefore, the LCt50 for resting man should be used. Any extra casualties caused by increased respiration due to activity should merely be considered as bonus effects. On the other hand, for defensive uses, protective equipment should function under the most adverse conditions. For example,

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No reliable acute-exposure1 standards have been established for the particular purpose of protecting soldiers from toxic exposures to chemical warfare (CW) agents. Some human-toxicity estimates are available for the most common CW agents—organophosphorus nerve agents and vesicants; however, most of those estimates were developed for offensive purposes (that is, to kill or incapacitate the enemy) and were intended to be interim values only. Because of the possibility of a chemical attack by a foreign power, the Army's Office of the Surgeon General asked the Army's Chemical Defense Equipment Process Action Team (CDEPAT) to review the toxicity data for the nerve agents GA (tabun), GB(sarin), GD (soman), GF, and VX, and the vesicant agent sulfur mustard (HD) and to establish a set of exposure limits that would be useful in protecting soldiers from toxic exposures to those agents. This report is an independent review of the CDEPAT report to determine the scientific validity of the proposed estimates.


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