Environmental mimics of chemical warfare agents
There are several natural and artificial factors that mimic the effects of chemical warfare agents, thereby causing unwarranted alarm and confusion on the battlefield. Symptoms associated with chemical warfare include paralysis, muscle tremors, heavy salivation, severe burns, blistering, and corrosive skin injuries among others. Similar symptoms can be produced from a variety of environmental sources, artificial and natural. This article reviews several published and unpublished examples of environmental factors that produce syndromes similar to those caused by these agents. Examples of such mimics include pesticides, blistering exudates from insects and plants, various types of bites, and naturally occurring diseases. The potential for confusion caused by these factors is discussed and means of discriminating between warfare agents and naturally occurring events are identified. Recommendations for the use of this information and for needed research are also discussed.
Claborn, David M. "Environmental mimics of chemical warfare agents." Military medicine 169, no. 12 (2004): 958-961.