Inflammable poison


November 24, 2005 by AK

At school they told me — I was in my early teens — that elemetary phosphorus comes in two principal varieties (actually, four), white and red. White phosphorus is poisonous and inflammable; the red modification is relatively harmless and inert. White phosphorus fluoresces in the dark (whether it was used in bedside alarm clocks, I am not sure). Red phosphorus makes safe matches possible.

Ordinary phosphorus is a waxy white solid; when pure it is colorless and transparent… It takes fire spontaneously in air, burning to the pentoxide. It is very poisonous, 50 mg constituting an approximate fatal dose… White phosphorus should be kept under water, as it is dangerously reactive in air, and it should be handled with forceps, as contact with the skin may cause severe burns.

There’s more here. If this nasty stuff is used in combat, what is it but a chemical weapon?


  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, and by this reasoning, bullets are also a chemical weapon. Gunpowder ignites from a simple chemical reaction … and bullets are made of pure lead, after all. It is VERY deadly at high velocities! It is proven that years afterwards, all that lead in the environment can lead to brain and nervous system damage. Firing ranges are essentially hazardous waste sites due to the high lead levels in soil. Look it up.

    I bet if enough reasonable and humane nations … like Iran, North Korea, Syria, Russia, China, and France … got together and banned bullets as chemical weapons … the US would be forced to stop using these terrible chemical weapons (bullets, that is) in Iraq. There are more humane alternatives, after all. Tasers for example. Mace or pepper spray can’t be used, because they too are chemical weapons. Ditto rubber bullets … rubber can still be deadly at high velocities, especially if it hits you in the cranium.

  2. Alex(ei) says:

    Come on, Anon, you know very well that the impact of bullets is primarily mechanical. They kill not by a chemical reaction but by speed and mass, i.e. their primary impact can be described in terms of mechanics such as impetus and kinetic energy. Poisoned bullets would be a chemical weapon, though.

  3. phosphorus bullets have been used thence atleast the korean war. There used for night fire(tracer rounds) and durring korea as a primitive chemical weapon. Mostly aimed at injurring the person working on the wounded solder. They cut into the person to remove the bullet, the air hits it, and it would ignite, causing injurry to patient and usually the medic. So Bullets can trully be a chemical weapon.

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