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Deadly gas was developed by Germans during war.

SARIN is a deadly nerve gas that was developed by German scientists in World War II.

A compound of organic phosphorus, alcohol, sodium fluoride and other chemicals, it is 26 times more deadly than cyanide.

Like most other nerve agents, sarin is colourless, odourless, tasteless and diffuses very rapidly into the human skin due to its high volatility.

Symptoms include impaired vision, vomiting, headaches and respiratory problems.

It is estimated that all it takes is 0.01 mg for every 1kg of body mass for it to be fatal to a human. Nazi stockpiles were largely disposed of after the war but, until the early 1980s, the US Army was thought to possess millions of litres of the gas in West Germany.

Sarin has also been produced in Middle Eastern countries and was used during the Iran-Iraq war.

Seven years ago a nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway killed 12 people and injured 5,000 others.

The attack by Japanese religious cult Aum Shinrikyo warned the world of the threat from chemical and biological weapons.

On March 20, 1995, the cult left small perforated bags of sarin in subway terminals so that the gas would seep out and spread slowly in the confined spaces of Tokyo's underground during the rush hour.

Around 5,000 people were treated at 105 hospitals for exposure to the gas.

The army's anti-chemical warfare units were called in to decontaminate five trains and 16 stations.

Due to its high density, sarin gas tends to drift above the ground for weeks.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 18, 2002
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