The history of the use of chemical warfare agents during the World War I

A.N. Arustamian, V.S. Tkachishin


Chemical warfare agents with suffocating and irritating action were the first type of chemical weapon used during the World War I. The main toxic substances used by a gas projector were suffocating ones — gas-like phosgene, liquid diphosgene and irritating toxic substance — chloropicrin. All of these compounds caused severe damage to the respiratory system, skin. In total, from April 1915 to November 1918, there were more than 50 German cloud attacks. For the same period, 150 English and 20 French gas discharges were carried out against the German troops. French troops on May 15, 1916 used artillery with a mixture of phosgene and tin tetrachloride and arsenic trichloride, chloropicrin, as well as a mixture of hydrogen cyanide and arsenic trichloride, tin tetrachloride in chloroform in the form of vincennite. Cyanogen chloride and hydrogen cyanide — chemical warfare agents with general poisonous effect. For the first time, mustard gas as a blister agent was used on July 12, 1917 outside the town of Ypres in Belgium in artillery shells. The use of chemical warfare agents in the World War I caused the protest of the world community. After the war, according to the Treaty of Versailles (1919), Germany and its military allies were prohibited from researching, developing and adopting chemical warfare agents.


World War I; chemical warfare agents; cloud attack; chlorine; phosgene; diphosgene; chloropicrin; cyanogen chloride; hydrogen cyanide; mustard gas; arsenic trichloride


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Детская энциклопедия. — М.: Изд-во Академии педагогических наук РСФСР, 1961. — Т. 7. — С. 600.

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