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Nerve Agents

Nerve agents are chemicals that attack the nervous system of the body and stop it from performing properly. Not all nerve agents are weapons, as chemicals call “organophosphates” are nerve agents that are used as insecticides.

Nerve agents are typically clear and colorless, and may have no odor. They tend to be denser than air and so accumulate in low areas. Nerve agents include tabun (GA), sarin (GB), soman (GD) and VX. VX is significantly more lethal as it tends to be highly persistent and non-volatile.

If you are exposed to a nerve agent attack, move away from the impacted area quickly without passing through the contaminated area. It may be necessary to “shelter-in-place” if you can’t get out of a building or if the nearest place with clean air is indoors.

If you are advised to shelter in place, do the following:

  • close all doors and windows;
  • turn off fans, air conditioners, and forced-air heating units that bring in fresh air from the outside;
  • only recirculate air that is already in the building;
  • move to an inner room or basement; and
  • keep your radio turned to the emergency response network or local news to find out what else you need to do.

This information taken from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website.


Service Contact: Emergency Medical Services Division of the Department of Health - HEPRA
Contact Phone: (202) 671-4222
Contact Fax: (202) 671-0707
Contact TTY: 711

Office Hours:
Monday to Friday 8:15 am to 4:45 pm

Service Location:
GIS Address: 899 North Capitol Street, NE
City: Washington
State: DC
Zip: 20002