The Chemical Scythe - organophosphates (Fluoride)
What are organophosphates?
There are almost 900 different bug killers (pesticides) that can be used in the United States. A small number (37) belong to a class of insect killers (insecticides) known as organophosphates. The chemicals in this class kill insects by disrupting their brains and nervous systems. Unfortunately, these chemicals also can harm the brains and nervous systems of animals and humans. These chemicals stop a key enzyme in the nervous system called cholinesterase from working, and this can make people ill. Fluoride is an organophosphate.Toxicity of the Organophosphate Chemical Warfare Agents GA, GB, and VX: Implications for Public Protection
Nancy B. Munro, Kathleen R. Ambrose, and Annetta P. Watson
Health Sciences Research Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6383 USAhttp://www.ehponline.org/members/1994/102-1/munro-full.html
Retrospective Detection of Nerve Agents
Currently methods are lacking to detect highly toxic organophosphate compounds in biological samples. Measuring acetylcholinesterase inhibition in blood does not identify the organophosphate and does not always reliably provide evidence of organophosphate exposure when enzyme inhibition levels are in the low normal range. Also, because the enzyme is being synthesized, exposure can be missed.
Nerve agents such as sarin tabun, soman and VX bind very rapidly to acetylcholinesterase and butyryl cholinesterase. Studies have shown that both acetyl cholinesterase and butyryl cholinesterase inhibited by sarin can be reactivated by high concentrations of fluoride ions (10). Fluoride
ions have a high nucleophilic affinity toward the phosphoryl moiety in the organophosphate, thus it can release the organophosphate from the enzyme. This leads to the formation of a phosphofluoridate which can be assayed. By this method, retrospective biological monitoring of exposed humans to nerve gases can be accomplished to determine the identity of the compound.
The assay is based on the stability of the butyryl cholinesterase-organophosphate complex. This method was applied to serum from victims of the terrorist attack in Japan and generated sarin from the victims' samples. Analysis of the phosphoryl moiety of butyryl cholinesterase after its conversion to the corresponding phosphofluoridate compound represents a reliable procedure for biologically monitoring exposure to organophosphates and identifying the organophosphorus compound (10).http://220.127.116.11/video/conferevents/BioTerrorism/Toxic%20Terrorism%20Handout%209-10-02%20Grand%20Rounds.doc