Deliberate events cover a wide spectrum of intent and public health impact. They can be on a small scale, for example, contaminating a few samples of a product to extort money from a retailer. They can also be on a large scale, such as the deliberate release of biological, chemical or radionuclear material for terrorist purposes.
One famous deliberate event happened in 1995 when members of the Aum Shinrikyo sect deliberately released sarin nerve gas into the Tokyo subway.
In many countries, a common form of deliberate use of chemicals is the addition of methanol to counterfeit or illicit alcoholic drinks. In 2005, for example, at least 21 people died in Turkey after drinking a counterfeit brand of raki. In 2006, in Nicaragua, 788 people were poisoned by methanol and 44 died after drinking contaminated guaron – a brandy-like liquor.
Deliberate chemical release: FAQs
Initial clinical management of patients exposed to chemical weapons - Interim guidance document
Warning signs of a chemical release
What to do in case of a chemical release
Symptoms of exposure to highly toxic chemicals
Decontamination at health facilities
Basic equipment for decontamination (A3 poster)
Decontamination steps (A3 poster)
Initial management flowchart (A3 poster)
Signs and symptoms of exposure (A2 poster)
- Public health response to biological and chemical weapons: WHO guidance (2004)
Mental and social aspects of health of populations exposed to chemical weapons: An overview
- Mental health of populations exposed to biological and chemical weapons (2005) [pdf 121kb]
- Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers
- Health protection guidance in the event of a nuclear weapons explosion [pdf 29kb]
- How to recognize and initially respond to an accidental radiation injury [pdf 446kb]
- Radiological dispersion device (dirty bomb) information sheet [pdf 20kb]
- Guidelines for drinking-water quality (2008)
- Terrorist threats to food: guidelines for establishing and strengthening prevention and response systems (2002)
- Chemical Safety Information from Intergovernmental Organizations (IPCS INCHEM)
- Centre for Environmental Health Activities (CEHA)