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Homeland Security

Chemical Attack Fact Sheet: Warfare Agents, Industrial Chemicals, and Toxins

A chemical attack is the spreading of toxic chemicals with the intent to do harm. A wide variety of chemicals could be made, stolen, or otherwise acquired for use in an attack. Industrial chemical plants or the vehicles used to transport chemicals could also be sabotaged. Harmful chemicals that could be used in an attack include:

  1. Chemical weapons (warfare agents) developed for military use.
  2. Toxic industrial and commercial chemicals that are produced, transported, and stored in the making of petroleum, textiles, plastics, fertilizers, paper, foods, pesticides, household cleaners, and other products.
  3. Chemical toxins of biological origin such as ricin.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and The National Academies teamed up in 2003 to produce fact sheets on chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks designed to help better prepare the media for the types of threats facing the nation.

Each fact sheet provides clear, concise information to the media and the public on the characteristics, dangers, and consequences associated with various types of attacks. Each fact sheet has been through a rigorous peer review process evaluated by independent members of the National Academies, many of whom are recognized as the nation's foremost experts in their field.

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Last Update Date: 
Wed, 07/08/2015
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