Sarin is a man-made nerve gas that was originally developed as a pesticide in Germany in 1938.
It is an organophosphorus compound with the formula [(CH3)2CHO]CH3P(O)F.
It is also known as GB and is a part of a class of chemical weapons called G-series nerve agents that were developed during World War II and were named for the German scientists who synthesized them.
Other such agents in the class include tabun, soman and cyclosarin.
At room temperature, G-series nerve agents are volatile liquids, with sarin being the most volatile.
Sarin is a clear, colorless and tasteless liquid that has no odor in its pure form.
It is made up of four common chemical compounds: dimethyl methylphosphonate, phosphorus trichloride, sodium fluoride and alcohol.
Exposure usually occurs when the liquid form comes in contact with the skin or the agent is released as a vapor.
Use of Sarin
In Early 1950s, NATO adopted sarin as a standard chemical weapon, and both the USSR and the United States produced sarin for military purposes.
It is doubtful but some say that Sarin was used in Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
It was used in attacks in Japan for at least two times, killing many and making hundreds of people ill.
Interferes with the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which acts as an off switch for glands and muscles.
Blocking that switch results in over-stimulation of muscles.
Exposure to sarin vapours can trigger symptoms within a few seconds; exposure to liquid sarin can take a few minutes to as much as 18 hours to cause symptoms. Large doses of sarin can cause loss of consciousness, convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure and death.
Low doses can cause a range of symptoms, from a runny nose and watery eyes, to drooling, excessive sweating, nausea and vomiting. Because sarin evaporates quickly, it presents an immediate but short-lived threat.
Difficulty to prove the use of Sarin
The use of sarin is extremely difficult to prove, because it quickly evaporates and disappears. Direct samples from the soil and blood from the victims can be used to prove its use.