Bis(2-chloroethyl)thioether, C4H8SCl2

The Bis(2-chloroethyl)thioether molecule, more commonly known as Mustard gas is an example of Mustard agent, that is typically used in chemical warfare. The molecule (actually a liquid) was introduced in 1822, but its harmful properties were not discovered until 1860. Mustard agents were first used towards the end of the First World War - but was then stockpiled by many nations during World War II.

In the war between Iran and Iraq in 1979-88, Iraq used large quantities of chemical agents. About 5000 Iranian soldiers were reported killed, 10-20 per cent by mustard agent. In addition, there were 40000 - 50 000 injured. A typical result of warfare with mustard agent is that the medical system is overloaded with numerous injured who require long and demanding care.

When the liquid comes into contact with the skin or lungs, blisters are formed. The blistering and subsequent infections killed many soldiers.

Unfortunately there is no antidote to mustard agent poisoning - efforts are made to treat the symptoms, and the pain and illness can stay with victims for the rest of their lives.

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