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December 1, 1962

Chemical, Biological Weapons Are Just as Potent as Nuclear Ones

JAMA. 1962;182(9):30. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050480094039

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If thoughts of nuclear attack aren't disturbing enough, here are excerpts from Lt Col Loran E. Mott's report to the Disaster Medical Care Conference on chemical and biological warfare:

Chemical and biological weapons, in their own quiet ways, are as potent as the nuclear weapon. By their very nature they seek out the enemy whether he is widely dispersed or concentrated in fortifications, they offer a wide variation of effects ranging from the highly lethal down to the mildly incapacitating, they are antipersonnel only and do not destroy cities and industries, and they are extremely cheap to use.

The nerve agents, or anticholinesterase agents, act by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase with resulting accumulation of acetylchaline at the ends of pre- and postganglionic cholinergic nerve fibers, at the ends of motor nerves to striated muscles, and within the central nervous system. The functional effects are muscarinic, nicotinic and central. The signs and symptoms