Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why A Chemical Threat in Syria Is Terrifying


Discovery News - As escalating unrest in Syria has turned into full-fledged civil war, concerns are growing that the Assad regime will employ chemical weapons to squelch the opposition, the BBC has reported. According to some rumors, chemical agents have already come into play there.

So, how do chemical weapons work and what makes them so terrifying?

NEWS: Mysterious Structures Found in Syrian Desert

A handful of chemicals rank among the most feared as potential weapons, according to HowStuffWorks.

On the less-threatening end is sarin, a clear and tasteless manmade liquid, which the Syrian government is rumored to have, according to the BBC.

Sarin affects communication between nerve cells by interfering with an enzyme called cholinesterase, which works to flush out a message-carrying molecule called acetylcholine. By knocking out the off-switch normally provided by cholinesterase, HowStuffWorks explains, sarin causes uncontrollable contractions of the muscles, including the diaphragm. Suffocation can follow.   More