Topic editor: Steven G. Gilbert
Lead author: Steven G. Gilbert
Managing Groups: Chemicals Group



Sarin is a chemical warfare agent that was first synthesized in 1938 by Gerhard Schrader and his team of chemists. It was produced commercially in numerous countries throughout the world but its production, stockpiling and use were outlawed by the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.

Pharmacology and Metabolism

Like all Nerve Agents it inhibits cholinesterase production and results in very high levels of acetylcholine.

Health Effects

From the #CDC:
People may not know that they were exposed because sarin has no odor. People exposed to a low or moderate dose of sarin by breathing contaminated air, eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, or touching contaminated surfaces 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
  • Low or high blood pressure

Even a small drop of sarin on the skin can cause sweating and muscle twitching where sarin touched the skin. Exposure to large doses of sarin by any route may result in the following harmful health effects:

Mild or moderately exposed people usually recover completely. Severely exposed people are not likely to survive. Unlike some organophosphate pesticides, nerve agents have not been associated with neurological problems lasting more than 1 to 2 weeks after the exposure.


From #CDC:
How people can protect themselves, and what they should do if they are exposed to sarin:_

If people think they may have been exposed, they should remove their clothing, rapidly wash their entire body with soap and water, and get medical care as quickly as possible.

Removing and disposing of clothing:

Washing the body:


Its production, stockpiling, and use are outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention. See the Chemical Weapons page for a more complete regulatory history.


Main Article: Chemical Weapons.


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

Picture References
Sarin picture retrieved from CNN. Accessed on 1-26-07.