Mass Casualty Chemical Exposure and Implications for Respiratory Failure

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Abstract:

Exposure to chemical agents, both deliberate and accidental, over the past 100 years has resulted in the deaths of thousands and a significant number of casualties requiring hospitalization. The respiratory system is an important portal of entry into the human body for many of these agents, and pulmonary symptoms are a hallmark of many chemical exposures. The 4 major chemical warfare agents are: lung-damaging, blood, blister, and nerve compounds. The review will cover historical exposures, signs and symptoms, treatment, and long-term consequences. There are numerous examples of deliberate (as well as accidental) exposure to harmful chemicals, and each incident requires the provider to understand the signs and symptoms of the particular chemical so that the correct treatment is provided. The respiratory implications of these agents appear to be dose and timing dependent, with full recovery often seen if supportive measures and appropriate antidotes are administered in a timely fashion.

Keywords: ANTIDOTES; BLISTER AGENTS; BLOOD AGENTS; CHEMICAL WARFARE AGENTS; LUNG-DAMAGING AGENTS; NERVE AGENTS; RESPIRATORY EFFECTS OF CHEMICAL AGENTS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Trauma/Surgical Critical Care, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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