mustard gas

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

mustard gas,

chemical compound used as a poison gaspoison gas,
any of various gases sometimes used in warfare or riot control because of their poisonous or corrosive nature. These gases may be roughly grouped according to the portal of entry into the body and their physiological effects.
..... Click the link for more information.
 in World War I. The burning sensation it causes on contact with the skin is similar to that caused by oil from black mustard seeds. The compound is not a gas but a colorless, oily liquid with a somewhat sweet, agreeable odor; it boils at 217°C;. A powerful vesicant, mustard gas causes severe blistering even in small quantities. Highly irritating to the eyes, it quickly causes conjunctivitis and blindness. If inhaled, it attacks the respiratory tract and lungs, causing pulmonary edema. Some effects of exposure to mustard gas are delayed up to 12 hr; death may result several days after exposure. Mustard gas was introduced by the Germans in warfare against the British at Ypres, Belgium, in July, 1917, and took a heavy toll of casualties. It is dispersed as an aerosol by a bursting shell. Chemically, mustard gas is a thioether, 2,2′-dichlorodiethyl sulfide, (ClCH2CH2)2S. It can be prepared by reacting ethylene with sulfur monochloride, S2Cl2, or by other methods. Its vesicant property is readily destroyed either by oxidation or by chlorination (e.g., with bleaching powder).

Mustard Gas


Yperite (β, β′-dichlorodiethyl sulfide), a thio ether of the aliphatic series, S(CH2CH2C1)2; it is poisonous. Mustard gas was first used on July 12, 1917, by the Germans against Anglo-French troops near the Belgian town of Ypres (hence the name yperite).

Mustard gas is a colorless liquid. Melting point, 14.5°C; boiling point, 217°C (with partial decomposition); density, 1.280 g/cm3 (15°C); solubility in water, 0.05 percent. It is readily soluble in organic solvents. Industrial-grade mustard gas is a dark brown, almost black liquid with an unpleasant odor. Mustard gas is hydrolyzed very slowly by water; the rate of hydrolysis increases sharply in the presence of caustic alkalies or upon heating and mixing. It reacts vigorously with chlorinating and oxidizing agents. Since nontoxic products are formed in this case, the above reactions are used for decontamination. Mustard gas forms colored complexes with salts of heavy metals. This property is used for the detection of mustard gas.

Mustard gas is prepared by two methods: (1) from ethylene, CH2=CH2, and sulfur chlorides, such as S2C12 or SCl2; (2) from thiodiglycol, S(CH2CH2OH)2, and hydrochloric acid, HC1. It is a protoplasmic poison. It attacks the skin and eyes in the form of liquid drops, vapor, and mist. Inhalation of the vapor causes grave harm to the upper respiratory tract and the lungs. A characteristic property of mustard gas is the “latent period” (up to 12 hours or more).

Analogous physiological effects are produced by a group of materials of the type RN(CH2CH2C1)2, where R = CH3,C2H5, or CH2CH2C1, which are arbitrarily called nitrogen mustards. The nitrogen mustards are colorless, odorless high-boiling liquids. They are slowly hydrolyzed by water. The hydrolysis is accelerated in the presence of alkalies. The reaction of nitrogen mustards with chlorinating and oxidizing agents generates nontoxic products. These reactions are also used for decontamination. Nitrogen mustards are produced from tertiary β-hydroxyethylamines, RN(CH2CH2OH)2, where R = CH3,C2H5, or CH2CH2OH, by replacing the hydroxyl groups with chlorine atoms. A characteristic feature of nitrogen mustards is their inhibiting action on cell division, in connection with which some nitrogen mustards, as well as their derivatives (such as Embichin and Endoxan), have come to be used in the treatment of malignant tumors.

Gas masks and special protective clothing are used for the protection of the respiratory organs and the skin, respectively.


Soborovskii, L. Z., and G. Iu. Epshtein. Khimiia i tekhnologiia boevykh otravliaiushchikh veshchestv. Moscow, 1938.
Sartori, M. “Novoe v khimii boevykh otravliaiushchikh veshchestv.” Uspekhi khimii, 1954, vol. 21, part 1, p. 62.


mustard gas

[′məs·tərd ‚gas]
(organic chemistry)
HS(CH2ClCH2)2S An oil with density 1.28, boiling point 215°C; used in chemical warfare. Also known as dichlorodiethylsulfide.

mustard gas

an oily liquid vesicant compound used in chemical warfare. Its vapour causes blindness and burns. Formula: (ClCH2CH2)2S
References in periodicals archive ?
and German governments recently confirmed reports that ISIS had used mustard gas against Kurdish soldiers in Hassakeh, northern Syria.
He said Iran had swiftly deployed medical teams, field hospitals and protective clothing once it had identified mustard gas as the cause of the mysterious symptoms of early victims.
Mercury contamination in the mustard gas stockpile is "one of the challenges we see down the road," said Ormond.
6) When the Far East Air Force requested guidance on chemical employment against North Korea in January 1953, the discussion was exclusively on using World War II weapons containing CG, cyanogen chloride (CK) (a blood agent), and mustard gas, with particular interest in CK to penetrate protective masks.
In September 2002, in Samukawa, a road construction crew struck a buried cache of bottles containing mustard gas and lewisite near a residential area.
In time it was determined that his skin has absorbed enough of the mustard gas that they had to remove most of the muscle from his legs to save his life.
It turned out the black fluid in the bottles was concentrated mustard gas and lewisite, an arsenic-based fluid that emits blistering vapors.
And it's not mustard gas, it's a really strong antihistamine.
Doctors who treated survivors reported that Iraq had used both mustard gas and a flesh-eating mycotoxin called T-2 -- more commonly known as "Yellow Rain.
All 12,000 inhabitants of the town of Vimy had to be evacuated after shells containing mustard gas and other toxins began to break up - turning it into a ghost town.
They have rendered harmless the chemicals that were found to have leaked from several mustard gas shells.