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THE CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL THREATS

 
 

It is quite reasonable to assume that in an all-out nuclear conflict chemical and biological weapons will be employed. While chemical weapons might have a predominant tactical use, i.e., on a battle field, biological weapons, which are subject to the possibility of some sort of negative feedback, i.e., changing wind directions carrying them back towards the offender since they depend on the dispersal in the atmospheric winds, might be prevalently employed to target populations in distant areas at intercontinental range.
Following an introductory section concerning these agents of mass destruction is a resume describing the properties [1] of known chemical and biological agents, safety precautions, first aid measures and notes concerning decontamination. Additional related information will be found also on several
plates.

CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

 

Chemical agents.

The behavior of chemical agents is dependent on weather variables such as wind, temperature, air stability, humidity, and precipitation. The influence of each variable depends upon the synoptic situation and is locally influenced by topography, vegetation and soil. Chemical agents may be dispersed in different forms: vapors, aerosols, or liquids. It is hence important how these agents are affected by environmental constraints hence following is an overview of the basic characteristics of chemical agents and the ambience effects.

Basic Characteristics

Vapors and small particles are carried by the winds, while any large particles and liquids drops fall out in a ballistic-like trajectory and are quickly deposited on the ground. Many agents give off vapors that form vapor clouds. The speed at which an agent gives off vapors is called volatility. Agents may be removed naturally from the air by falling out(large particles falling to the ground more quickly), by sticking to the ground or vegetation, or by being removed by precipitation. Once deposited on vegetation or other ground cover, volatile agents may be re-released to the atmosphere for further cycles of travel and present an hazard until sufficiently diluted or decontaminated. During approximately the first 30 seconds, the size and travel of an agent are determined primarily by the functioning characteristics of munition or delivery system. Thereafter, the travel and diffusion of the agent cloud are determined primarily by weather and terrain. For example, in high temperatures, volatile agents produce maximum agent vapor in 15 seconds. Light winds and low turbulence allow high local concentrations of agents, while high winds and strong turbulence reduce the concentration and increase the area coverage by more quickly carrying away and diffusing the agent cloud.

Vapors - When a chemical agent is disseminated as a vapor from a bursting munition, initially the cloud expands, grows cooler and heavier, and tends to retain it form. The height of the thermally stabilized cloud is height to which the cloud rises, due to it buoyancy. If the vapor density of the released agent is less than the air's vapor density, the cloud rises quite rapidly, mixes with the surrounding air, and dilutes rapidly. If the agent forms a dense gas, its vapor density being greater than the air's vapor density, the cloud flattens, sinks, and flows aver the earth's surface. Generally, cloud growth during the first 30 seconds is more dependent upon the munition or delivery system than upon surrounding meteorological conditions.

[1] All the material used in this work was obtained from unclassified sources; some of the material is adapted from standard sources. Where other material has been adapted the figures in this work should not be taken as approved by the original source.
Franco Dell'Oro except the pages that do not carry this notice. Free for educational and personal use. Cannot be reproduced in print for commercial purposes.