Medical aspects of sulphur mustard poisoning

Toxicology. 2005 Oct 30;214(3):198-209. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2005.06.014. Epub 2005 Aug 3.


Sulphur mustard is one of the major chemical warfare agents developed and used during World War I. Large stockpiles are still present in several countries. It is relatively easy to produce and might be used as a terroristic weapon. Sulphur mustard is a vesicant agent and causes cutaneous blisters, respiratory tract damage, eye lesions and bone marrow depression. The clinical picture of poisoning is well known from the thousands of victims during World War I and the Iran-Iraq war. In the latter conflict, sulphur mustard was heavily used and until now about 30,000 victims still suffer from late effects of the agent like chronic obstructive lung disease, lung fibrosis, recurrent corneal ulcer disease, chronic conjunctivitis, abnormal pigmentation of the skin, and several forms of cancer. Despite enormous research efforts during the last 90 years, no specific sulphur mustard antidote has been found. The prospering knowledge and developments of modern medicine created nowadays new chances to minimize sulphur mustard-induced organ damage and late effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Warfare Agents / chemistry
  • Chemical Warfare Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Chemical Warfare Agents / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Mustard Gas / chemistry
  • Mustard Gas / pharmacokinetics
  • Mustard Gas / poisoning*
  • Poisoning / diagnosis
  • Poisoning / metabolism
  • Poisoning / therapy


  • Chemical Warfare Agents
  • Mustard Gas