What is Chemical Warfare:
To understand chemical warfare you must first understand what a chemical agent is. A United Nations report from 1969 defines chemical warfare agents as " ... chemical substances, whether gaseous, liquid or solid, which might be employed because of their direct toxic effects on man, animals and plants ... ". This means basically that any chemical that is used to directly effect and harm a person, plant, or animal would be an act of chemical warfare.
Some commonly confused Chemical Agents:
Agents such as napalm and phosphorus are not considered to be Chemical agents since they achieve their effect mainly through thermal energy. Certain types of smoke screen may be poisonous in extremely high concentrations but smoke ammunition is not classified as a chemical weapon since the poisonous effect is not the main reason for their use. Another common misconception is that biological agents such as viruses or microorganisms (small pox etc.) are considered a chemical agent, but this is not the case. Effects of chemical agents and biological agents may be similar but they different in production. Chemical agents are created and biological agents are found naturally in nature or cultured for use.
Different types of Chemical agents:
Nerve Agents: Source: A FOA Briefing Book on Chemical Weapons Nerve agents acquired their name because they affect the transmission of nerve impulses in the nervous system. They are stable, easily spread, highly toxic and have rapid effects when absorbed through the skin and respiratory track. Nerve agents can be manufactured by means of fairly simple chemical techniques. The materials are inexpensive and generally readily available. It was not until the early 1930's that German chemists discovered the effects of certain phosphorus compounds to be toxic. Two years later a phosphorus compound with extremely high toxicity was produced for the first time. This phosphorus...