Adamsite or DM is an organic compound
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

; technically, an arsenic
Arsenic is a chemical element with the symbol As, atomic number 33 and relative atomic mass 74.92. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and metals, and also as a pure elemental crystal. It was first documented by Albertus Magnus in 1250.Arsenic is a metalloid...

al diphenylaminechlorarsine, that can be used as a riot control agent. DM belongs to the group of chemical warfare agents known as vomiting agents or sneeze gases. First synthesized in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 by Heinrich Otto Wieland
Heinrich Otto Wieland
Heinrich Otto Wieland was a German chemist. He won the 1927 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research into the bile acids. In 1901 Wieland received his doctorate at the University of Munich while studying under Johannes Thiele...

 in 1915, it was independently developed by the US chemist Roger Adams
Roger Adams
Roger Adams was an American organic chemist. He is best-known for the eponymous Adams' catalyst, and his work did much to determine the composition of naturally occurring substances such as complex vegetable oils and plant alkaloids...

 (for whom it is named) at the University of Illinois
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a large public research-intensive university in the state of Illinois, United States. It is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system...

 in 1918. DM was produced and stockpiled by the Americans at the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, but never deployed on the battlefield
Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. In a battle, each combatant will seek to defeat the others, with defeat determined by the conditions of a military campaign...

. It was, however, used against the Bonus Army
Bonus Army
The Bonus Army was the popular name of an assemblage of some 43,000 marchers—17,000 World War I veterans, their families, and affiliated groups—who gathered in Washington, D.C., in the spring and summer of 1932 to demand immediate cash-payment redemption of their service certificates...

 who demonstrated in Washington, DC, during the spring and summer of 1932, reportedly causing the death and serious injury of several children who had accompanied their parents on the protests.

DM is an odourless crystal
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography...

line compound with a very low vapour pressure. The colour of the crystals ranges from bright yellow to dark green depending on the purity. It is readily soluble in some organic solvents (e.g., acetone
Acetone is the organic compound with the formula 2CO, a colorless, mobile, flammable liquid, the simplest example of the ketones.Acetone is miscible with water and serves as an important solvent in its own right, typically as the solvent of choice for cleaning purposes in the laboratory...

, dichloromethane
Dichloromethane is an organic compound with the formula CH2Cl2. This colorless, volatile liquid with a moderately sweet aroma is widely used as a solvent. Although it is not miscible with water, it is miscible with many organic solvents...

), but nearly insoluble in water. In vaporous form it appears as a canary yellow smoke.

Adamsite is usually dispersed as an aerosol, making the upper respiratory tract the primary site of action. Although the effects are similar to those caused by typical riot control agents (e.g. CS
CS gas
2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile is the defining component of a "tear gas" commonly referred to as CS gas, which is used as a riot control agent...

), they are slower in onset and longer in duration, often lasting several hours. After a latency period of 5–10 minutes irritation of the eyes, lungs and mucous membranes develops followed by headache
A headache or cephalalgia is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck. The brain tissue itself is not sensitive to pain because it lacks pain receptors. Rather, the pain is caused by disturbance of the...

, nausea
Nausea , is a sensation of unease and discomfort in the upper stomach with an involuntary urge to vomit. It often, but not always, precedes vomiting...

 and persistent vomiting
Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose...


DM is now regarded as obsolete. It has been widely replaced by riot control agents such as CS
CS gas
2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile is the defining component of a "tear gas" commonly referred to as CS gas, which is used as a riot control agent...

 which are less toxic and more rapid in onset of symptoms. Early battlefield use was intended to be via "Adamsite candles". These were large metal tubes containing a smoke composition
Smoke composition
A smoke composition is a pyrotechnic composition designed primarily to generate smoke. Smoke compositions are used as obscurants or for generation of signaling smokes. Some are used as a payload of smoke bombs and smoke grenades.-Obscurants:...

 made of Adamsite plus a slow burning pyrotechnic composition
Pyrotechnic composition
A pyrotechnic composition is a substance or mixture of substances designed to produce an effect by heat, light, sound, gas or smoke or a combination of these, as a result of non-detonative self-sustaining exothermic chemical reactions...

. A series of candles were lit and the Adamsite-laden smoke allowed to drift towards the enemy.

North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 has been accused of producing Adamsite at its Aoji-ri Chemical Complex for stockpiling.

External links

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