Soman, also known as GD, is a man-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent. Neural agents are the most toxic and fast-acting chemical warfare agents known. They are similar to pesticides called organophosphates in how they work and the types of harmful effects they cause. However, it is much more effective than organophosphate pesticides. Soman was first developed in Germany in 1944 as an insecticide and is a clear, colorless, tasteless liquid with a slight odor, similar to mothballs or camphor containing rotten fruit, and can turn into vapor when heated. In addition, soman or other nerve agents were used in chemical warfare during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s and are not found naturally in the environment.
Exposure to Soman Gas
Following the release of soman into the air, it is exposed to skin contact, eye contact or inhalation with soman, and this chemical easily mixes with water. When mixed with water, this water can be used to poison people. It is also possible for people to be exposed by drinking contaminated water or contaminating their skin with contaminated water following release to water. And after contamination with food, contaminated food can be exposed by eating. Also, a person’s clothing can release soman after coming into contact with his vapors, which can result in other people being exposed. Since the Soman vapor is heavier than air, it goes down into low lying areas and creates a greater exposure hazard.
How Does Soman Gas Work?
The extent of poisoning caused by Soman gas depends on how much the person was exposed, how long the exposure took. Symptoms appear within seconds of exposure to this vapor form and within a few minutes to 1 hour after exposure to the liquid form. All nerve agents cause toxic effects by inhibiting the proper functioning of an enzyme that acts as the body’s switch for glands and muscles. Without a switch, glands and muscles are constantly stimulated, so they can become tired and no longer maintain functions such as breathing. Compared to other nerve agents, salmon gas is more volatile than VX but less volatile than sarin. The higher the volatility of a chemical, the more likely it is to evaporate from a liquid to a vapor and spread into the environment. People may be exposed to steam even if they do not come into contact with the liquid form. This chemical weapon is an immediate but short-lived threat due to its high volatility and does not remain in the environment for long. In addition, since the nerve agent is more volatile than VX (the strongest nerve agent), it stays on exposed surfaces for a shorter time compared to VX.
Signs and Symptoms of Soman Gas Exposure
Although soma can smell of camphor or fruit, the odor may not be noticeable enough to warn people of toxic exposure. People exposed to inhalation may experience some or all of the symptoms within a few seconds to hours. These symptoms are as follows:
- Abnormally low or high blood pressure
- Blurred vision
- Chest tightness
- Drooling and excessive sweating
- Eye pain
- Increased urination
- Nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain
- Rapid breathing
- Runny nose
- Slow or fast heart rate
- Small and sensitive pupil
- Eye watering
Even a small drop of nerve agent in the skin can cause sweating and muscle twitching where it touches the skin. Exposure to high doses of soman by any means can cause adverse health effects, including:
• Loss of consciousness
Respiratory failure possibly causing death
Also, showing these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has been exposed to somana.
Long-Term Health Effects of Salmon Gas
People who are mildly exposed to salmon gas usually recover completely, and those who are severely exposed are unlikely to survive. People should protect themselves and know what to do when exposed to soman. There are things to do when exposed and protected from salmon gas, and these are:
• Getting rid of Soman gas is possible with treatment, but existing antidotes must be used quickly (within minutes) to be effective. Therefore, the best thing to do is avoid exposure.
• The area where the soman is released should be abandoned and fresh air should be taken. Moving quickly to an area with fresh air is highly effective in reducing the chance of death from exposure to its vapor.
• If the release of the soma is outside, the area should be moved away. Go to the highest possible place, because the soman is heavier than air and sinks in low areas.
• If the release of the soman is indoors, exit the building immediately.
• If people think they have been exposed, they should remove their clothing, wash their entire body with soap and water quickly, and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
• Clothes must be destroyed after removal. Instead of removing the clothes over the head, it should be cut off. If possible, the garment should be placed in two plastic bags and tightly closed. Taking off and closing clothes in this way helps protect against chemicals that can be found on clothes.
• After the garments are packed in plastic bags, the local health department or emergency personnel should be informed. However, plastic bags should never be touched.
• If helping others to remove their clothes, try not to touch contaminated areas and remove clothing as soon as possible.
• Liquid somanes on the skin should be washed as soon as possible with plenty of soap and water. Washing with soap and water helps protect the body from chemicals.
• In case of burning or blurred vision, the eyes should be washed with plain water for 10 to 15 minutes.
• If Soman has been swallowed, it should not be vomited or consumed fluids.