NATS 7049 Toxicology of Chemical Weapons

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 301150

Coordinator Chris Lennard Opens in new window

Description This unit is structured to comprehensively provide the student with the fundamental toxicologically relevant concepts of weapons that can be used to create mass casualties. These weapons are often called weapons of mass destruction, a term that is closely related to but not synonymous with mass-casualty weapons (a technically more appropriate term). This unit will focus on chemical agents and toxins as the toxicologically relevant mass-casualty weapons. Each of the eight modules in the unit will consist of specific objectives, one or more illustrative cases, a list of the primary references that the student will be expected to acquaint himself or herself with, a brief introduction, a section of teaching material and study tips, and assignments designed to stimulate critical thinking. The general objectives of this unit are to familiarize the student with the toxicological concepts applicable to chemical and toxin weapons of mass destruction; to provide useful references for study, discussion, and reference; and to provide experience in critical thinking about the clinical toxicology of these agents. This unit is taught by the University of Florida as part of a collaborative venture between the University of Florida and Western Sydney University. Note: Further information on this unit is available from the University of Florida.

School Science

Discipline Forensic Science

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 2 10cp

Level Postgraduate Coursework Level 7 subject


Students must be enrolled in 3741 Master of Forensic Science, 3742 Graduate Diploma in Forensic Science or 3743 Graduate Certificate in Forensic Science.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. List several definitions of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
  2. Explain how WMD relates to mass-casualty weapons (MCW), NBC, and CBRNE
  3. Be able to define toxin, toxicant, toxic industrial chemical (TIC), LD50, and LCt50
  4. Explain what subsets of WMD are relevant to clinical toxicology
  5. Discuss the risks of chemical and radiological/nuclear terrorism
  6. Review the applicability to chemical, radiation, and nuclear mass casualties of ASBESTOS, POISON, TOXICANT, or a similar version of the agent-environment-host approach to a systematic clinical assessment of mass-casualty event from these kinds of agents
  7. Explain what is meant by the ABCDDs of mass-casualty care
  8. Explain what NATO codes are
  9. Differentiate between WMDs with local effects on the respiratory tract and those with systemic effects
  10. Understand the differences and similarities of the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of WMDs with local and systemic effects
  11. Summarize the management of central- and peripheral-compartment damage to the respiratory tract
  12. Summarize the pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and management of WMDs
  13. List the three major vesicants used as chemical-warfare agents
  14. List the differential diagnosis of miosis (pinpoint pupils) in a poisoned patient
  15. Define incapacitating, incapacitating agents, disability, and nonlethal
  16. List the features of the anticholinergic toxidrome
  17. Define 'riot-control agent' and be able to list the important riot-control agents
  18. Define opioid, opiate, and opioid toxidrome
  19. List three separate ways (in addition to the CDC categories) of classifying toxins
  20. Explain the differences between a chemical and a biological warfare agent

Subject Content

Module 1 Introduction
Module 2 Chem I: Inhaled Toxicants with Local Effects on the Respiratory Tract
Module 3 Chem II: Blood Agents
Module 4 Chem III: Vesicants
Module 5 Chem IV: Anticholinesterases
Module 6 Chem V: Incapacitating Agents I: Anticholinergic Agents
Module 7 Chem VI: Anticholinergic Agents II: Riot-control Agents and Opioids
Module 8 Toxins


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Item Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Final Exam Not specified 100 N Individual

Teaching Periods

Uni of Florida/Canberra-Term 3



Subject Contact Chris Lennard Opens in new window

View timetable Opens in new window