In 1915 the German army maimed or murdered five thousand Allied soldiers by releasing 150 tons of chlorine gas. Approximately twenty years later, a German chemist, Dr. Gerhard Schrader, working on a compound for the agricultural business, developed an insecticide that proved to be even more deadly than chlorine. It was sarin. For fear of retaliation, the Nazis did not make use of this toxic compound at the time. But years later, in 1995, twelve people were killed and thousands injured during the Tokyo subway violence, as a result of sarin’s toxic effects .
Like other nerve agents, sarin attacks the nervous system. Its deadly effect on the body can be as a result of exposure through skin or eye contact, or by breathing air that contains sarin. Since the compound mixes easily with water, a person can also be exposed by touching or drinking water that contains sarin. Since it has no odor, it is possible that a person wouldn’t realize he has come into contact with this toxic compound. Upon exposure in even a limited or moderate way, one may experience nausea, chest tightness, weakness, drooling and excessive sweating, among other symptoms. Greater exposure could mean a lesser chance of survival.
Although recovery from exposure to sarin is possible with treatment, antidotes must be administered quickly. Until 2010 the gas mask kits that were distributed by the IDF in Israel contained a small syringe filled with atropine sulfate, which the US Center for Disease Control endorses as one of the best treatments for sarin exposure. Since the gas mask provides only limited protection, those exposed to the deadly gas would require both atropine sulfate and pralidoxime chloride for greater chance of survival.
Although this injection is considered to be crucial by most, these injectors containing the antidote are not being offered to Israeli citizens. Perhaps it is a budgetary issue. But it has been reported that officials at the Home Front Defense Ministry could not be reached for comment.