molecule of the week: Sarin-I am used as chemical weapon

Sarin structure (source: wikipedia)
by Avash Rawot (MSc student, CDC-TU, Nepal)

Density : 1.09 ( g/cm3 at 25 °C)
B.P : 147.0 °CMP:  -57.0°CIUPAC ID(RS)-propan-2-yl methylphosphonofluoridate 
Molecular weight : 146.10
  • Organophosphorous compound with formula: [(CH3)2CHO]CH3PF
  • Sarin was originally developed in 1938 in Germany as an insecticide
  • Sarin is a clear, colorless, and tasteless liquid that has no odor in its pure form
  • However, sarin can evaporate into a vapor (gas) and spread into the environment

  • If sarin is released into the air, people may be exposed through skin contact or eye contact. They may also be exposed by breathing air that contains sarin. 
  • If sarin is released into water, people may be exposed by touching or drinking water that contains sarin.
  • If sarin comes in contact with food, people may be exposed by eating the contaminated food.
  • A person’s clothing can release sarin for about 30 minutes after it has come in contact with sarin vapor. Other people can be exposed to sarin if they breathe this sarin gas.
Health effects
  • Because sarin breaks down slowly in the body, people who are repeatedly exposed to sarin may suffer more harmful health effects. 
  • Like other nerve agents, Sarin functions by competitive inhibition of the enzyme acetyl cholinesterase.
  • This enzyme is found at synapses and nerve endings where it breaks hydrolyses the neurotransmitter Acetyl choline so that the nerve impulse is only transmitted once as required.  When the enzyme is inhibited acetyl choline accumulates at nerve endings.  This has various unpleasant effects leading to paralysis (where accumulation occurs at motor neurones) and eventually death by means such as asphyxiation.

Sources: including wikipedia

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