Toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) - Chemical warfare without chemical weapons

Hincal F., Erkekoǧlu P.

Fabad Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, vol.31, no.4, pp.220-228, 2006 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 31 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Journal Name: Fabad Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.220-228
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Over the second half of the 20th century, numerous chemical incidents have threatened civil populations and the environment in several parts of the world. Hazardous properties of industrial chemicals range from explosive or highly flammable to corrosive or poisonous. Their toxicity is much lower than that of chemical warfare agents. However, even simple common chemicals can be extremely hazardous when released into the environment in large amounts. Hazardous material incidents may be either the result of transportation-related accident or release, or generated from a fixed site by deliberate or accidental causes or natural disasters, including fire, flood, storm or earthquake. On the other hand, a number of military actions against chemical plants and installations clearly showed that "toxic warfare" or "chemical warfare without chemical weapons" is possible. The dual-use potential of chemicals certainly attracts the attention of terrorist organizations because they are more available, less securely protected, easy to access and handle or disperse, and less costly compared to classical warfare chemicals. Hence, industrial chemicals may provide terrorists with effective, readily accessible materials to develop improvised explosives, incendiaries and poisons. An attack of a chemical plant by terrorists or regular military forces has the potential to expose responding personnel as well as the surrounding civil population to many different kinds of chemicals at once, and the result may be highly destructive. Awareness and recognition of potential threats of industrial chemicals are the first requirements to mitigate and prevent their public health hazards. The need for preparedness via knowledge, equipment, emergency planning and exercise; implementation and reinforcement of legislations; and establishment of a leading and coordinating foundation must be emphasized, and their materialization must be supported by all parties, including academia, industry and government.