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Module 8: Neurotoxins

Chemical Agents of Opportunity for Terrorism: Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs) & Toxic Industrial Materials (TIMs)

In recent years, there has been growing concern that many of the most likely threats of chemical terrorism involve so-called “agents of opportunity.”  Both common and unusual industrial agents may pose a considerable threat as potential terrorist weapons.  While an understanding of the traditional military chemical weapons (e.g. nerve agents) remains essential, an appreciation of the myriad of other potential toxic chemicals readily available in our society is crucial if we are to optimally prepare, identify and defend against chemical threats. Many toxic industrial chemicals are easily obtainable from multiple sources in our communities and pose a serious threat to health if accidentally released or intentionally disseminated. 

Chemical Agents of Opportunity for Terrorism Complete Course Description 

Course Target Audience

The information presented will be of interest to state and local first responders, EMTs, paramedics, emergency physicians, emergency response coordinators, public health officials, industrial hygienists and others involved with chemical terrorism preparedness and response. Our topic selection for each course is intended to prepare the response community for their upcoming OHA Demonstration Project Tabletop exercise. 

Module 8: Neurotoxins

This module portrays the complexities of the central nervous system as a balance between excitatory, inhibitory, and thought modulating neuro-transmitters. The ways in which chemicals alter this balance are described (calmatives, convulsants, hallucinogens) with examples of mass poisonings and attacks.

Module Objectives

By the end of this module, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize toxic syndromes that effect the nervous system including sedation, convulsions, and hallucinations.
  • Describe the unique clinical effects of toxins that cause sedation syndromes.
  • List examples of chemical agents of opportunity for each toxic syndrome.
  • Describe initial treatment strategy.


Lewis_Nelson.pngLewis Nelson, MD, FACMT
New York University School of Medicine
New York, NY
Dr. Lewis Nelson is currently a Professor of Emergency Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, and is an attending physician at both NYU Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital. He is the Director of the Fellowship in Medical Toxicology at New York University School of Medicine and the New York City Poison Control Center. He is a former President of the American College of Medical Toxicology and has served in various consultative roles with FDA, CDC, and DHS. He is an editor of Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies, now in its 10th Edition, a major textbook in the field of medical toxicology. He has published over 130 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, and presents frequently at national and international meetings. The focus of his publications and presentations are medication-related adverse effects, chemical terrorism, and toxicity of abused drugs.  

Module Recording and Materials