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August 29th, 2013
08:15 PM ET

Sanjay Gupta on sarin gas: "It's pretty gruesome stuff"

The crisis in Syria raises many questions in regard to the United States’ role in the conflict, especially as the issue of chemical weaponry comes to the forefront. Tonight on “Piers Morgan Live,” the host speaks with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, getting to the bottom of the question: What exactly are chemical weapons?

Gupta begins by explaining that, while there are many types of chemical weapons, it is suspected that sarin is the weapon of choice in Syria. Sarin is one of the most toxic chemical weapons that has been used in warfare.

“Just a fraction of an ounce of this stuff, of sarin, on your skin could potentially be fatal,” says Gupta. “It can be absorbed across the skin, it can be absorbed into the lungs, across the eyes. It’s pretty gruesome stuff.”

Gupta continues to explain why this toxin is incredibly dangerous:

“It is so indiscriminate. It is tasteless. It is odorless. You can’t see it. And, so you don’t even know that you’ve been exposed, necessarily, until you suddenly start to get sick. And then, it starts pretty quickly and can degrade pretty quickly as well.”

Watch the clip for more of Morgan's interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta as he explains the effects of chemical weapons, and for the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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  1. Sharon

    Not sure what Bubba is talking about. Sanjay is one of the only trustworthy people around. His information about Sarin was spot on without the typical histrionics of most news people.

    August 30, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sue

      Bubba is likely one of those guys who has been posting on various web sites about how this could all be solved by the US supplying Syrian people with gas masks (and Walter).

      September 1, 2013 at 11:58 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Eileen Nicole Simon

    Dr. Gupta, most important is the effect on the brain of Sarin (and other toxic substances, “recreational drugs,” etc). Have you done research with Sokoloff’s deoxyglucose method? Sokoloff found the inferior colliculi in the midbrain to have the highest rate of metabolism by this method. Use of deoxyglucose to measure brain metabolism grew out of Kety’s method for measuring blood flow, which also revealed the highest blood flow in the inferior colliculi. Kety’s seminal paper is online (free) at

    Research on another nerve gas, Soman, revealed that sublethal doses raise blood flow in the inferior colliculi, which may be an attempt to increase oxygen (and glucose) to this highly active metabolic center of the brain.

    Opisthotonus is a severe reaction to neurotoxic substances, which can also be evoked in laboratory animals by cutting the midbrain between the inferior and superior colliculi. Sherrington described this as a sign of “decerebration” or loss of cortical control over subcortical functions.

    If Dr. Gupta follows comments on his reports, I would appreciate some back and forth discussion. Nerve gases are bad, but so are “recreational” drugs. I think most people should be able to understand that degrees of “decerebration” should be avoided, and substances involved outlawed.

    August 30, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. G tremayne

    Yeah it is horrific, but who did it.It makes no sense for the regime as they are winning. The rebels have the benefit from its use. The US didn't react when the gave Iraq products and info to use against Iran troops. Nor did anything happen when Egypt used it against rebels,...even in WW2 the US was shipping mustard gas to Italy to use against Nazis. . It's nice to say its against international conventions but the US ignores international laws,....why should anyone else respect them.

    September 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mayya

      First you say no one knows who used it and then you say USA used it during the war, and so and so used it also,but dose that make it legal for the Syrian Regime to use on Syrian Women and Children!!!! I do not get !!

      September 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Sue

        The point being made was not whether it was legal to use chemical weapons against Syrian women and children. The point was that there is a history of using chemical weapons on all sides, and no one has adhered to the international law, including the US, but now we expect others to adhere to those laws. G Tremayne was simply stating the facts in that historically we have not been a very good role model in this area.

        September 7, 2013 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Layla L.

      Assad is using chemical weapons because he is desperate to stay in power. If you actually knew the situation on the ground, you would know that the chemicals were fired from Assad's military units and know that they landed in rebel controlled areas. Why would the rebels gas themselves? Inform yourself, before you wreck yourself.

      September 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Arwin

        So it seems you were on the ground at that moment and you have sources inside the SAA. Pretty awkward that CIA hasn't asked you for the 'evidence' which they have but don't want to share.

        September 7, 2013 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
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