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Tabun was the first of the Nerve Agents to be synthesized. It was created by accident in 1937 by Gerhard Schrader as he was working to discover new organohophate insecticides. Tabun inhibits the nervous system by arresting cholinesterase production which results in an accumulation of acetylcholine.Tabun was stockpiled extensively as a chemical weapon agent but was replaced by Sarin because the latter is less volatile and more potent (#Tucker, 2006).



Tabun was synthesized in 1936-1937 by German chemist Gerhard Schrader while working at IG Farben while working on a new orgnophosphate insecticides.

For a full review of Tabun's history see the history section of the Chemical Weapons page.

Health Effects

People exposed to a low or moderate dose of tabun by inhalation, ingestion (swallowing), or skin absorption may experience some or all of the following symptoms within seconds to hours of exposure:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Small, pinpoint pupils
  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Drooling and excessive sweating
  • Cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased urination
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain
  • Slow or fast heart rate
  • Abnormally low or high blood pressure

Exposure to a large dose of tabun by any route may result in these additional health effects:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Convulsions
  • Paralysis
  • Respiratory failure possibly leading to death
  • Showing these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has been exposed to tabun.

The above is taken from #CDC.


People who may have been exposed to tabun should move away from the exposed area, get rid of affected clothing, and wash the body. Some known antidotes are [atropine[ and Symptotal.


Tabun is regulated under the Chemical Weapons Convention.


Tucker, Johnathon B. War of Nerves: Chemical Warfare from World War I to Al-Qaeda. Pantheon Books, 2006.

Hutchinson, Robert. Weapons of mass Destruction: The No-nonsense Guide to Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Weapons Today. Widenfield and nicholson, 2003.

Smart, Jeffery K., M.A. (1997). "History of Biological and Chemical Warfare. Textbook of Military Medicine: Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare. Retrieved Jan. 5, 2006 from Center for Diaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM). Retreived Jan. 5, 2004.

Picture References
Tabun structure retreived from CNN. Accessed on 1-26-07.

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