A chemical emergency is the release of a hazardous material that has the potential for harming people’s health. Chemical releases can be unintentional, as in the case of an industrial accident, or intentional, as in the case of a terrorist attack.
What are chemical agents?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a chemical emergency as occurring “when a hazardous chemical has been released and the release has the potential for harming people’s health.”
Some chemical agents are manmade and some can be found in nature. Many hazardous chemical agents are used in industry, while others have been developed specifically for military use in warfare, such as sarin and sulfur mustard (“mustard gas”). The following are common chemical agents of concern:
Last reviewed August 2021