Chemical Weapons Quiz

In this latest quiz from C&EN, quizmaster Jessica Morrison tries to stump you with questions about the science and unfortunate history behind chemical warfare. The eight questions, which recognize the upcoming 100th anniversary of chemical weapons’ first use, are multiple-choice. When you’ve finished the quiz, you’ll have an opportunity to share your score on Facebook and Twitter. Go ahead! Impress us with your knowledge of chemical weapons. We promise not to alert the NSA.

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  1. A note: although this was a ‘chemical weapons’ quiz, a clarification should be made. Since military organizations have historically employed and prepared defenses against the use of chemicals, I will evoke military definitions. According to U.S. military doctrine defoliants (Agent Orange), riot control agents, irritants and smoke are not chemical weapons, but rather ‘military chemical compounds.’ The CWC currently permits use of riot control agents for law enforcement purposes. In addition, although amendments to the CWC now prohibit the use of defoliants, not once does the revised CWC refer to the defoliants as chemical weapons or even chemical agents.
    There is a sloppy trend in discussions of chemical warfare to arbitrarily include a vast array of chemical compounds. Using only the part of the definition describing ‘toxic chemicals and precursors’ ignores the second part of the CWC definition ‘except where intended for purposes not prohibited’. Without some restraint, a list of ‘chemical weapons’ could grow to enormous lengths, as there are a large number of industrial chemicals that could be turned to uses as ‘toxic’ compounds.

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