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Incidents are still occurring annually in the neighbourhood of Sweden where people risk injury from mustard agent. This largely involves fishermen who are exposed to mustard agent brought to the surface by fishing nets. The background is found in the dumping of chemical weapons after the Second World War in waters off the Danish and Swedish coasts. Many fishing ports in south Sweden and Denmark have resources to care for injured people and to decontaminate equipment contaminated by mustard agent. Certain resources are also available on the fishing vessels.Mustard agent is very simple to manufacture and can therefore be a "first choice" when a country decides to build up a capacity for chemical warfare.Apart from mustard agent, there are also several other closely related compounds which have been used as chemical weapons. During the 1930's, several reports were published on the synthesis of nitrogen mustard agent and its remarkable blistering effect. The mechanism of action and symptoms largely agree with those described for mustard agent. Germans and Americans started the military production of nitrogen mustard agent in 1941 and 1943, respectively, whereas the development in England was abandoned following an explosion. There is no verified use of nitrogen mustard agents as chemical weapons and their usefulness is restricted by these types of agents being unsuitable for storage.
Tris(2-chloroethyl)ethylamine is the organic compound with the formula N(CH2CH2Cl)3. Often abbreviated HN3, it is a powerful blister agent and a so-called nitrogen mustard gas (it is not a gas) used for chemical warfare. HN-3 was the last of the nitrogen mustard agents developed. It was designed as a military agent and is the only one of the nitrogen mustards that is still used for military purposes. It is the principal representative of the nitrogen mustards because its vesicant properties are almost equal to those of HD.Mode of actionNitrogen mustards react via an initial cyclization to the corresponding iminium salt. The rate of this reaction is pH dependent because the protonated amine cannot cyclize.ApplicationsHN-3 has found some applications in chemotherapy, e.g. for Hodgkin's disease, but it is mainly of interest for its military uses and is the only one of these agents that remains anywhere as a military agent. These agents are more immediately toxic than the sulfur mustards.