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July 1940


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology and Syphilology of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and the Research Foundation of the Children's Hospital.

Arch Derm Syphilol. 1940;42(1):123-136. doi:10.1001/archderm.1940.01490130127015

In the World War there were introduced irritant chemical compounds which acted primarily by blistering the skin or mucous membranes. Although known to chemists since 1866, it was not until July 22, 1917 that the first compound, dichloroethylsulfide (mustard gas), was used on a large scale as a casualty-producing agent. Within three weeks after the introduction of this gas by the Germans, the British forces had 14,276 members injured, of whom 500 died.1 In the American Expeditionary Forces in the World War there were 27,711 casualties from mustard gas, with only 599 deaths. Of this large number of casualties there were only 4 cases of loss of sight of both eyes.2 Whether the blindness was due to mustard gas or to other gases in all of these 4 cases is not known. Although primarily sternutators, some of the other war gases, such as diphenylchloroarsine (Clark I), phenyldichloroarsine, ethyldichloroarsine