Destruction and detection of chemical warfare agents

Kibong Kim, Olga G. Tsay, David A. Atwood, David G. Churchill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

752 Scopus citations


The destruction and detection methods for the chemical warfare agents are examined. Acetyl-cholinesterase (AChE) inhibition is the most well-known mode of action of nerve agents. When nerve impulses reach a nerve ending, acetylcholine is released from the terminals of presynaptic nerves into the synaptic or neuromuscular junction and binds to the ACh receptor site on the postsynaptic membrane, thereby causing stimulation of the nerve fibers or muscles. Enzymatic hydrolysis involves nucleophilic addition and acid-based reactions at the catalytic site of the enzyme that involves a catalytic triad. Neutralization with aqueous NaOH at ambient temperature allows for the destruction of significant quantities of sarin (GB). VX and R-VX are completely hydrolyzed within 1-2 months at room temperature to nontoxic compounds in the presence of a stoichiometric amount of water. Peroxides are attractive reactants for decontamination because they are nontoxic and noncorrosive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5345-5403
Number of pages59
JournalChemical Reviews
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 14 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)


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