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Sarin Fast Facts: A Deadly Nerve Agent That Terrifies The World

The mention of Sarin evokes fear, anxiety, and dread. It is a deadly nerve agent that has been used in several terrorist attacks and has caused the loss of countless lives. Sarin is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid that can cause death within minutes of exposure. In this article, we will delve into the history, properties, effects, and measures to prevent the use of Sarin.


Sarin was developed in Germany in 1938 by a group of chemists led by Dr. Gerhard Schrader. In their pursuit of creating a stronger pesticide, they stumbled upon a compound that had potent nerve agent properties. The subsequent tests on animals proved its deadly potential. The German army produced tons of Sarin during World War II but did not use it due to fears of retaliation.

The Sarin production process became public knowledge in the early 1950s, and many countries began to manufacture the nerve agent. Sarin was used by the Iraqi army during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians. In 1995, a domestic terrorist group released Sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system, killing twelve people and injuring thousands.


Sarin, also known as GB, is a cholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it blocks the production of the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the nervous system. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that communicates between nerves and muscles. By interfering with the neurotransmission, Sarin causes muscles to contract uncontrollably, leading to spasms, convulsions, and eventual paralysis. Sarin’s chemical formula is C4H10FO2P, and it has a boiling point of 158 degrees Celsius.

Sarin is usually delivered via a liquid droplet or as a gas dispersed into the air. A tiny amount of Sarin, about a drop on the skin or inhaled, can cause symptoms within seconds. Sarin can also persist in the environment, making it dangerous even after initial exposure has ended.


The effects of Sarin can range from mild to fatal, depending on the level of exposure. Common symptoms of Sarin exposure include blurred vision, runny nose, drooling, nausea, and difficulty breathing. At higher levels, the victim may experience severe convulsions, coma, and death. Sarin’s effects can be felt within seconds to minutes of exposure, making it difficult to administer any countermeasures.

Sarin can also have long-term effects on those exposed to it, including brain damage, respiratory problems, and chronic neurological disorders.

Preventive Measures

The use of Sarin was banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. This international treaty prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, and transfer of chemical weapons. The use of Sarin is a war crime, and anyone who uses it can be charged with a crime against humanity.

Countries that have signed the treaty have committed to destroying their existing chemical weapons stockpile and facilities. The treaty also established the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees the implementation of the convention.

Individuals can protect themselves from Sarin exposure by wearing protective gear such as gas masks, goggles, and gloves. In the event of a Sarin attack, the best course of action is to evacuate the area immediately and seek medical attention if symptoms arise.


Sarin is a deadly nerve agent that has been used in several terrorist attacks and has caused the loss of countless lives. The chemical and physical properties of Sarin make it a potent weapon in the wrong hands. Preventive measures such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the work by the OPCW are essential in minimizing the chances of Sarin use. It is fundamental to remain vigilant and be prepared in the event of a chemical attack.