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When Germany launched its chlorine attack at Ypres on 22 April 1915 it caught the world by surprise It aroused world public opinion which blamed Germany for breaching The Hague Conventions Germany justified its actions They stated that The Hague Conventions only discussed projectiles whose sole purpose was the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases and did not cover gases released by cylinders The Germans also stated that France broke the conventions first Throughout the rest of the war Germany used chemical warfare agents in many of its military operations Chemical warfare agents are chemical substances designed to kill seriously injure or incapacitate humans and animals Chemical agents can also deny or hinder the use of areas facilities and materials Chemical agents are grouped into categories based on their physiological effects Lachrymators are primarily designed to affect the eyes but also cause respiratory problems when soldiers are exposed to a large quantity of the chemical Asphyxiators cause fluid to enter the lungs and prevent oxygen from reaching the blood Toxic gases pass through the lungs and into the blood and prevent the circulation and release of oxygen in the body Sternutators caused respiratory irritation sneezing nausea and vomiting Blister agents initially cause pain in the eyes throats and lungs but later cause blisters on exposed skin Germany used various chemical agents during the war depending on the desired effect they wished to inflict on the Allies The primary gases used in the Great War were chlorine phosgene a mix of chlorine and phosgene and mustard Chlorine is an asphyxiating gas that causes acute bronchitis with gradual suffocation and those who initially survived a considerable dose generally died from pneumonia Phosgene another asphyxiating gas was deadlier than chlorine because it incapacitated a solder in less than one-fourth of the time of chlorine 41 seconds vs 240 seconds and it required a much lower concentration to cause death A combination of chlorine and phosgene
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